We have all heard of problem-solving. But, do we know what it stands for really? Today, we will be discussing in detail about problem-solving skills, how you can improve your problem-solving skills, and a few examples to better understand the topic.
Most interviewers check the problem-solving skill of their candidates by giving them hypothetical situations and trick questions. As a teacher, it is important to have problem-solving skills as you will have to encounter a wide variety of situations in your teaching-life. Without further ado, let’s move onto understand more about Problem- Solving skills
What are Problem-solving skills?
Problem-solving can be defined as the process of understanding, analyzing, developing multiple solutions, and taking appropriate action. The skills that make someone equipped to do the above are called problem-solving skills.
What are ‘problems’? A problem has five different components mainly:
Let us look at these components more closely:
This is the most basic component of the problem. What is the problem? Is it a fight between two students? Is it an individual problem? Is it that students are not listening? Or is it simply a student who never listens? The problem can vary from grave intensity to silly issues. The key is to tackle all issues with ease.
Where is the problem happening? Is it in your classroom? The playground or the online teaching platform now that everything has moved online! You have to understand where the issue is to solve the problem.
This is the most important component that is necessary to solve the problem. Most often than not, understanding the “why” of the issue will help in solving the problem. Why is the child not concentrating? Is he/she facing family issues? Are they going for tuitions? You have to get to the root of the issue.
Who are the ones involved in the problem? Your students? You and another teacher? You and the internet?! As mentioned, a problem does not have to be grave. It can be a simple internet connectivity issue due to which you are not able to conduct online classes! That is also a problem that needs problem-solving skills to be resolved.
When did the problem occur, is it happening now or is there a chance for it to happen in the future. A chance of rain tomorrow can also be considered as a problem as it might affect the power and further your online classes.
The problem-solving process/ Techniques
As discussed earlier, a problem can be anything. It can be a tough situation, a quarrel, or even a person. How effectively you tackle it, defines your problem-solving skills. Now, we will be looking at how to solve a problem or rather, the steps involved in solving the problem. There are five steps involved in the problem-solving process.
- Understand/ Identify
- Evaluate/ Retrospect
The first step in solving the problem is understanding the problem, you have to identify that there is an issue.
Example: suppose it rained and the power supply got cut. You won’t be able to conduct online classes because there’s no power and your mobile/ laptop is dead. Understanding that you cannot be present for the class because so and so things have happened, is called identifying the problem.
When you are defining the problem, you should list out the pain points. You can do this either in your mind or you can actually write it down. You cannot pull out a paper and write down the pain points whenever you face an issue. However, for beginners and for people who want to develop their problem-solving skills, this is a good idea.
Example: Let’s take the same situation as discussed in the first point. The pain points would be, there’s no power, there’s no charge on your devices, and say your internet connection is down because of the heavy rain. You cannot conduct the classes. Now, you have defined your problem.
3. Research/ Investigate
The next step is to search in your surroundings and understand if there’s something that you can do to resolve the situation at hand.
Example: You can explore whether there’s a power bank with anyone at your house. You have to gather possibilities with which you can conduct your classes seamlessly. You can check if someone else in the house has devices that have not run out of charge. You also have to think about what you will do about the students who would try to join your online classes at the scheduled time.
Now that you have done your research and explored your possibilities, it is time to act on the problem.
Example: Use someone else’s phone and communicate with your students and inform them that there won’t be any classes until you tell them otherwise. Give them an activity or assignment that involves reading or research. If you do get a charged device, record a short version of what you were planning to teach and share it with one of your students and ask them to share it with the rest of the class.
When the problem is over, and everything goes back to normal, review your strategies, and understand what you could have done better.
Example: In this case, you could have anticipated such an event and be prepared for it. It is always advisable to have a contingency plan when it comes to online classes. Other than that, talk to others, understand what they would have done differently, and prepare yourself better for the future. This will help you with your problem-solving ability and you can also better understand how to improve your problem-solving skills.
How to improve problem-solving skills
We have looked at problem-solving skills examples and some basic problem-solving techniques. Let us look at how you can improve your problem-solving skills:
1.Concentrate on the solution.
You read that right. Rather than focusing on the problem, focus on the solution. Suppose if it started raining suddenly, what would you do? Would you focus on the rain or focus on not getting wet? The latter right? Similarly, in the power cut situation, focus on how you can communicate with the students rather than spending time on bringing electricity back.
2.Come up with multiple solutions
This might sound difficult. But, expand your horizon, and no matter how silly the solution sounds, come up with it. For example, in the above-mentioned scenario of the power supply being cut, you can get to a neighbor's house with UPS and conduct the classes. You can go to an internet cafe and continue the classes, you can call a colleague and change schedules, the feasibility can be thought about in the next step, and first come up with maximum solutions as you can. This is one of the problem-solving techniques.
3.Read a lot
Reading will open new avenues and give you more knowledge. So, read a lot and it will definitely help to improve your problem-solving skills. Troubleshooting, quick fixes, etc. are not the only thing that reading can provide, it also helps you to be mindful and calm during tough situations.
4.Yoga and meditation
Again, these will help you to be calm during tough situations and will give you the energy to tackle problems and issues. Though it might not directly reflect on your problem-solving skills, these will definitely help you with your problem-solving ability.
5.Build your communication skills
Communication can solve a lot of problems. If you have great interpersonal skills and communication skills, you can talk your way through the issues . You can also talk to other people and understand their take on the problem. Getting inputs from others is always advisable because it provides you a fresh perspective. Of course, there are some issues that are beyond our control and in those situations, understand that it is beyond our control and hope for the best.
Everyone faces an array of problems in their life. The ability to overcome these and to rise above these problems is what makes them successful. When it comes to teachers, as they handle young kids, teenagers, and college students, there are chances for problems and it is important to up the game. If you think you lack these skills, you can always improve by watching creative problem-solving examples videos, and reading various articles.
When you read a lot of problem-solving skills examples, it equips you with an idea/ thought of what you can do. It also helps you understand that you are not in this alone. We hope the problem-solving techniques that we discussed come in handy for you and you ace your job. If you feel that we have missed anything, please do share them with us.
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