What if your student come up with a solution unknown to you? Teachers, are you panic?

If you are a teacher, probably you have been in a situation when your students challenge you about something that you do not know. Students are able to access more materials and see different methods via the Internet and what would you do when you are unfamiliar with that approach?

According to Dr. Joshua Lambert, co-pi of several workshops for primary school teachers on flipped learning in Georgia, teachers who are unsuccessful using the flipped classroom model  tend to discount a students’ alternate methods and force that student to do a (math) problem a certain way.

Here are my suggestions to turn the situation into a fun, memorable, and rewarding experience for your students while avoiding embarrassment.

  1. Ask the student to present the new way of solution to the whole class. Ask the student to share the resources where he collect the solution and indicate why him/her think that the solution is a better one?
  2. Find other classmate(s) who have a different solution(s), and host a debate for the students to find out which solution is the better
  3. Be aware that the students may present a wrong solution, and may be so rigid to accept the right way. As an instructor, do not worry, just step back and listen then point the students to a different solution, the correct one, and ask them to identify the differences. Don’t say up front to the students that their solution is wrong. Just pretend that you don’t know the right solution and ask them to compare between the right and the wrong solution. You can even point to another instructor to be the mediator for the right solution. The fun is in the process of figuring out the correct solution, not the correct solution itself. Step back, and enjoy it.
  4. Don’t be afraid of now knowing what your students are talking about. Learn from them and thank them for sharing with you a new method. Your student will be so happy that they have a chance to be a teacher of a teacher. And sure enough, their interest in the subject and their confidence will tremendously grow. You may not know that the chance that you give the students now to show you new things, may be the critical factor that make them great people in the future.
  5. Finally, celebrate as the students come to challenge you with new solutions. This means that you have done a good job of motivating students to seek out new knowledge. That means you have been a great teacher, the one that grow the love of seeking new knowledge and creativity in them.

– Ngoc Vo

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