Again we welcome guest blogger Lori Schonhorst, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Early Childhood Specialist and I-Consult.
Earlier in the week, we discussed the importance of having a consistent problem-solving approach to address challenging situations in your program. One option for problem solving is called DO IT! and includes the four steps below:
D: Define the Problem
O: Open Your Mind to the Possibilities
I: Identify a Solution
T: Try It!
Simple enough, right? But what do these steps look like in action?
Define the problem. This is the most important step. It seems logical but sometimes what we think may be the problem is not actually the problem at all. Asking questions helps us identify what the actual problem may be. Examples of questions include:
- How does it happen?
- Who is involved?
- Where does it occur?
Sometimes we have new insights based on the information we uncovered as we are defining the problem. Maybe we discover that the behavior we are feeling challenged by happens during transitions, or usually happens during outside play, or maybe it tends to happen more often if another child is close by.
Open your mind to the possibilities. The next step is considering options for solving the problem. Collaboration can be especially important during this step. Sharing what things you have already tried and brainstorming new possibilities takes place during this step. It is important to avoid evaluating the ideas at this point…just get the ideas out there and allow for a free-flow sharing of ideas.
Identify the best solution. After generating ideas, explore the pros and cons of each idea. If there is an idea that you like but there is something about it that you consider negative or think won’t work, is there a way to modify the idea?
Try it! It is easy to get stuck and never move to the point of trying an idea out. If we get too caught up in the sharing of ideas or evaluating the pros and cons of our ideas, action doesn’t happen. When moving through this last step, it is important to determine:
- What steps will be taken?
- Who will do what?
- What resources are needed and when?
- How will we determine if it worked?
Problem-solving is often an ongoing effort and sometimes we may try something and then discover the need to start the problem-solving process over; however, having a consistent approach and being creative when exploring options helps create supportive environments for both children and teachers.
Resources: The Art of Creative Thinking, by Robert W. Olson