A Broken Stapler And A Little Perspective!

After school today, my teaching partner, Paula, shared a wonderful video and story with me. Paula and I both believe in fostering independence in our students, and we try to let them solve various problems on their own … including that of a broken stapler.

I love a lot about this video.

  • From her identification of the problem and her solution …
  • To her palpable excitement when she screams, “It’s working!”

But what I may love even more is the part that happened just after Paula stopped recording. She said that this student spoke to her about a child that always fixed our stapler last year. He’s now in Grade 1 and attending another school. She said, “If he was still here, I wouldn’t have learned to fix the stapler on my own!”

While I’m sure that at some point, she would have learned this skill, she’s right in thinking that this other child probably would have solved the problem if he was still in our class. In fact, she probably would have brought him the stapler. But with nobody else to fix it, she was forced to solve the problem on her own … and she did! 

I know that as educators, we worry that we can’t do it all. We often hear concerns around class sizes, and yes, our numbers can be large. 

  • How do we support everyone?
  • How do we meet with every child, every day?
  • What do we do when so many children may need our attention at the same time?

These are all valid concerns, and ones that Paula and I have discussed before. But then a five-year old shares some words of wisdom at the end of her stapler story and reminds us that maybe we don’t have to do it all. Sometimes — no matter what our age — we all benefit from those times when we have to solve our own problems, and the feeling of satisfaction when we do. How do we support students in seeing the value in these successes? How do we remember to let go enough to allow for this kind of independent problem solving? Thank goodness for a broken stapler and a little perspective!


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