Jess Sanders

Creative Solutions to Classroom Challenges

Discussion created by Jess Sanders on Feb 16, 2017

All educators encounter challenges during the school day that they long to solve. It can help to hear from other educators about a solution they came up with for a similar problem. The following are a few examples of solutions applied by educators to change the learning environment for their students:


Challenge # 1
My students tell me they fear public embarrassment and worry about making mistakes in class. I want to change my classroom to establish it as a “growth mindset” environment.



At the beginning of the year, I write a letter to my students explaining that I welcome mistakes in my classroom. I tell them that I value challenge-seeking, learning, and effort above perfect performance. Most importantly, I let them know that I look forward to supporting their individual growth, which is much more important than comparing their performance with others.



Challenge # 2
I find myself not providing adequate think time to students, as well as opportunities to respond in my classroom.



I write my students’ names on popsicle sticks and put them in a jar. When I ask a question to the class, I draw out a name to determine who will answer. I give the student 15 seconds to come up with an answer, and then I allow them to ask a friend if they get stuck.



Challenge # 3
I hear from my student’s parents that they don’t know how to help with the homework that their kids bring home. The students don’t demonstrate independent problem-solving skills, relying too often on parents to “tell them how to do it.”



I created a video introducing the concept of “boomerang questions” to parents. The “boomerang questions” technique sends a question right back to the asker. In the video, I share examples of these types of questions, including, “What strategy can you use that you may not have tried yet? Where should you start, because maybe you don’t have the correct starting point? What evidence do you have to support this answer?” In my classroom, I practice using similar questions to get students used to hearing and responding to them.


What solutions have you implemented to change your students’ learning environment? Share your stories below.