Our profession loses many very good teachers that pictured themselves teaching, students asking questions, and everyone enjoying it. They never expected to be spending so much time dealing with discipline. They never expected being angry and not liking some students. They never expected some students being angry and not liking them. They hoped to just teach and enjoy their time with the students.

Whether at conferences or training school faculties, the first question usually asked is “Where are we supposed to find the time to problem-solve with students?” This certainly is a valid question and has several answers. Some of the answers we can give you while you will have to find others. Sorry, but this is not an easy task to do. The good news, however, is that principals and teachers using problem-solving report having more time overall and certainly having more enjoyable time.

One answer we can give is to view this over the course of the year. Disciplining certainly takes less time with each student, but you end up dealing with many more incidences. Problem-solving is more up front time, but many teachers report having zero or only rare discipline incidences in the entire spring semester. Recall the student sent to the office twenty-six times the first semester, but only two times the second semester. The principal actually gained several days in the second semester. Imagine how much less time her teachers spent with the class disruptions. As mentioned earlier, most teachers reported classroom disruptions decreased by two-thirds over the course of the year and office referrals decreased up to 92%. Also keep in mind that most of these students were not disruptive at all the following year.

Another answer lies in the previous story about the vice-principal that liked her job much more when she felt like she was teaching instead of investigating and punishing. We have found that both teachers and principals end up with more time using problem-solving. Even if it were the same, the time is much more enjoyable. Teaching students is a wise use of your time, and watching students improve and thank you is extremely enjoyable.

Another answer is that in problem-solving, the student has to do most of the work and spend the most time. Also, students begin to help each other. This does not happen with discipline. You will find students doing much of the work for you, freeing up a lot of your time.