7 steps to problem solving – Primary Scenario


Use the 7 steps to problem solving to solve the following scenario.

Relief from face to face teaching for classroom teachers is covered by the TL. This means that it is difficult to plan any collaborative teaching opportunities with the teachers. You are also concerned that the students learning in the library may not be contextually relevant to their learning in the classroom. How could you approach this problem?

1. Define & identify the problem

I consider the problem in this scenario to be disconnection. Collaboration between classroom teacher and teacher librarian is an issue; instructional partnerships have not been facilitated or established within the school. One of the TL’s clear goals is to develop a teaching program that is relevant and connects to student learning in the classroom, yet in this scenario, teachers regard the library program as merely time release. TL feels frustrated, isolated and lacks confidence. ( This is a very real scenario, I see it occurring in one of my jobs and an attempt to rectify it in another)

2. Analyse the problem

Investigate reasons for current attitudes and practice. Initiate discussions with Head of Library (if there is one!) HOL’s or teachers, ask questions about library history & role, time tabling, after school responsibilities and time release for planning or assessment. Use these discussions to understand possible causes of time fatigue, apathy or lack of understanding of TL role. (Personally, I would find initiating these discussions quite challenging and would need to step outside the square)

3. Identify possible solutions

In this step I would arrange for the opportunity to raise these issues at a staff meeting. Perhaps arrange a meeting beforehand with team leaders.  Address the issues and establish early on whether leadership agrees there is a problem? Express your feelings, advocate your role & your connection to curriculum and student learning (takes courage & confidence), present professional data, reports etc. as evidence (takes knowledge & conviction). Suggest a brainstorming session for all staff to recognise, clarify & understand the problems; aim for all staff to be included to come up with a range of workable solutions. 

4. Select the best solutions

At the staff meeting discuss the issues, instigate the brainstorming session and create a list of the most achievable/realistic solutions. Establish what is needed for the solutions to work, for example, leadership & group support, collaborative planning time (or alternative proposals e.g, skype, blogs, wikis), collaborative teaching opportunities (TL to work with teachers in the classroom at different times of the inquiry cycle or teachers to participate in library sessions). (Again, I would find this quite challenging, especially if there wasn’t much support. The most difficult step. Need to be confident & resilient – to handle and manage negativity)

5. Evaluating solutions

As mentioned on the website, organise the group to weigh up and record the pros and cons of all solutions. As a group determine priorities? 

6. Develop an action plan

I would approach this in small steps. Establish a workable timeline, allow time for agreed changes to take place and time to reconvene to analyse/discuss results. Agree to start with one or two willing teachers to trial the new solutions; plan to share reflections and outcomes. (Is this being intuitive or just lacking in confidence?)

7. Implement Solutions

As above, follow up with administration, ensure that you have the allocated planning time/classroom time/library time with nominated teachers. Evaluate results.

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