Problem solvers and process monkeys – PP52

Paul Dix
Paul Dix
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Paul answers a question this week which was posed by a listener on Twitter. It leads him to a consideration of whether it’s better to follow the behaviour management process slavishly or to try to solve the problem.

Do you have a process-driven mindset or a problem solving mindset?

Here is the tweet Paul received:

monkeys “Any tips? Learner refuses to participate. Tried praise, encouragement, paired tasks, grp work, indiv tasks, sweets! no avail?”

In follow-up tweets, the low reading age of the learner as well as other issues were made clearer and the context of an English classroom was added.

Questions a teacher who is obsessed with process might ask themselves when faced with a learner who refused to participate:

  • Where are we at in terms of the policy?
  • What’s wrong with this learner?
  • What am I expected to do?
  • What sanction comes next?
  • What punishment is next?
  • Who can I pass this problem to?
  • What forms do I need to fill in?
  • How can I cover my back?
  • How do I speed up the process to get this learner out of my classroom?
  • Why doesn’t this process work?

The focus is on what the teacher should do to make the teacher’s life easier.

Problem-solving questions are similar but have a different slant:

  • Where is the learner at?
  • What’s driving this behaviour?
  • How can I help?
  • What positive behaviours can I find immediately?
  • Who can stand alongside me and guide?
  •  When are we going to organise a meeting to repair restore and review?
  • How can I slow down the process in order to give the learner some breathing space to make some real decisions?
  • How much persistence am I going to need in order to change this behaviour?
  • What can I do as an adult to change what I do to really help this learner?

So, where to start with this learner…

(Creative Commons image by Chi Tranter. Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. –

Read the rest of the show notes on the Pivotal Education site.

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