How To Become an Effective Problem Solver

Difficult behavior and interpersonal conflict present problems to be solved. Websterlearning

A great skill to have is the ability to solve problems specifically interpersonal and behavioral problems,  effectively. At the same time it is also a great skill to teach students. There are a few key requirements to resolving problems collaboratively.  Both inside and outside the classroom teachers deal with problems, and knowing how to resolve problems, either conflict between students, with students or with parents, require following some steps.

  Here are the steps to becoming an more effective problem solver.

Here's How:

  1. Understand 'why' the problem exists. What is the actual root cause for the problem? If you know something about why the problem exists, you'll have a better time of resolving the problem. Let's take the example of a child who doesn't want to come to school. Before you can help identify a solution, it is important to find out why the child doesn't want to come to school. Perhaps bullying is occurring on the bus or in the halls. One of the first steps to effectively solve problems, is delving into the root cause of the problem.
  2. Be able to clearly identify the problem and the obstacles that the problem presents. All too often when attempting to address a problem, those problems surrounding the principal cause are considered rather than identifying and resolving the root problem.  Clearly state the problem and what obstacles the problem presents to you. Again, the child who doesn't want to come to school has the problem of it having a negative impact on his/her academic success.
  1. Once you have clearly stated the problem, you need to understand what you have control over and what you don't. Your efforts to resolve the problem must be within the areas where you have control. You may not have control whether a child comes to school, but you do have control over dealing with the bully who is creating the barrier to the child not wanting to attend school. Solving problems must focus on the things which you can control.
  1. Do you have all the information you need? Solving problems is often like becoming involved in investigations. Have you thoroughly researched why the problem exists? Do you have all the information you need? If not, be persistent and seek out all information before tackling the problem.
  2. Don't jump to conclusions. Once you have all of your information, analyze it carefully and look at it from various viewpoints. Be as objective as possible and don't be quick to judge. Remain judgement free as much as possible. This is a time for you to use your critical thinking skills.
  3. Now determine your options for solutions. How many options do you have? Are you sure? Which options seem reasonable? Have you weighed the pros and cons of your options? Are there any limitations to your options? Are some options better than others and why? Are there advantages and disadvantages you need to take into consideration?
  4. You should now be ready to act. A well thought out strategy/solution is now in place. However, what is your plan to monitor its outcome? How will you know that your solution is working? Once your solution is in place, it is important to monitor and evaulate the outcome regularly.
  5. In Summary
    You can use this approach to many of the challenges that arise in your classroom. A child who won't comply, a parent who is unhappy with their child's IEP, an educational assistant with whom you are having some conflict with. The strategies used in this problem solving plan are merely good life long skills to have.


    1. Clearly state the problem.
    2. Know what the obstacles are related to the problem.
    3. Determine what you have control over and what you don't.
    4. Make sure you have ALL the information you need.
    5. Identify all of your options and implement the best option for a solution.