Heron Publishing: All About Reading

Tips for Teachers

By Dorris Lee
© Copyright by Dorris Lee 2000, used with permission.

Creative Problem Solving 2 is an outstanding tool for decision making. It can be used by adults and students alike. Give copies to your students every semester. Tell them to use it to make their own decisions, or to share with their friends who have problems. Look at Tips For Social Studies Teachers for instructions on how to use it with classes.

Dorris is the author of Reader's Edge, a video with an expensive manual, which teaches how to improve reading speed and comprehension.

Answer each of the following questions, in sequence, on a separate paper, as honestly and clearly as you can. Number each answer for later reference. It is useful to write down your answers as fast as you can, in response to each question. Leave extra space to write more; then briefly review and reflect on your answers. Don't linger over your answers, though; it's more important to write down the most important points and then move on through the process.

1. State your problem in no more than one sentence. Then answer:

A. How does the problem manifest? (Events, situations, etc.)
B. When does it happen?
C. How often does it occur?
D. How do you behave when the problem confronts you?
E. List any other people involved.
     1. What do they do that contributes to the problem?
     2. What are their behaviors in relation to the problem?
     3. What are their feelings about the problem?

2. What are your goals in solving the problem?

A. What payoffs do you expect from changing the problem?
B. How do you expect your behavior to change?
C. How do you expect others' behavior to change?
D. How will your thinking about the problem change?

3. How do you avoid solving your problem?

A. How do you avoid working on your problem? (Blame others, be helpless, procrastinate, etc. )
B. What thought patterns keep you from working on your problem?
C. How do you disown responsibility for your problem?

4. List the prices you pay for not solving your problem.

A. What is the cost in terms of
     1. Physical suffering or discomfort.
     2. Your relationship with others.
     3. Your feelings about yourself?
     4. Your thoughts about yourself?

5. How do you feel about your problem?

A. List the feelings.
B. Name some specific causes for your feelings
C. What do you tell yourself about these feelings?

6. What rewards do you get for not solving your problem?

A. Name good feelings you experience by avoiding the problem. (Sympathy, caring, security, etc. )
B. What are the good and/or comforting things you tell yourself when you don't work on solving your problem?

7. Identify alternative ways you could solve your problem.

A. List different ways you could change or solve your problem.

8. List the pro's and con's (rewards and punishments) attached to each of the alternatives listed in Question #7.

9. Identify and list the feelings you have about each alternative.

10. Decide now if you want to

A. Re-phrase or re-name the problem. If you do, then begin over with question #1.
B. Keep your problem
C. Continue working on your problem through this process. If you do continue, proceed with the next question.

11. What are the initial changes you need to make in order to begin solving your problem?

12. How much success do you need to make with these initial changes to keep you motivated and working on your problem?

13. What are some of the things you might do--or that will happen--if your plans don't work out?

14. List the order of activities, which will accomplish your plans.

15. List the ways you might try to defeat your testing-out process.

16. List the fears you are facing at the prospect of changing or solving your problem.

17. List the benefits you will enjoy as you resolve your fears and achieve success.

Permission is given to reproduce this document in its entirety or portions quoted if you reference the source: Dorris Lee, Author and Heron Publishing.

Helen H. Heron, author of College Countdown, A Planning Guide For High School Students, at



By Helen H. Heron
© Copyright by Helen H. Heron 2000

Look at College Countdown, A Planning Guide for High School Students to find out more about choosing colleges and universities and making good decisions. For ordering information, click here.

One of the most important contributions you can make to your students is to teach them how to solve their problems and make good decisions. You can adapt the Tips for Teachers problem solving model to a whole class of students in one period by using the following structure


  • Remind your students that everyone faces decisions and occasionally real problems as they go through life. Also, friends sometimes ask for help. Here is a tool for making good decisions
  • In any class of thirty, at least three or four students are facing real decisions in their lives. You don't know who they are, but to respect their privacy, you are going to ask the students to cover up their answers, and not share or ask to look at some else's papers during class. Don't be a snoop!
  • If they don't currently have a problem, work on "How to get better grades, improve their study skills, or win friends and influence people". Do write out a problem.
  • You will give a short time for each response. This will ensure the process is finished before the period ends.
  • You will walk around the room during this exercise to be sure they are doing what is asked, but you won't read what they are writing. You want to respect their privacy also.

MATERIALS: A Copy of Tips for Teachers for each student.

  • After the students have cleared their desks, have a pencil or pen out, and their arm curled protectively over their paper, read out the questions, timed at 30 seconds per question.
  • When you are through with all 45 questions, ask them to read their responses. Then, ask them to fold up their paper and put it away without sharing with anyone around them.
  • Carry on a brief class discussion during the remaining moments of class. Usually, three or four students come up and say it really helped them.
  • Have extra blank copies they can reproduce for their own use, and to give to their parents and friends.

Permission is given to reproduce this document in its entirety or quote portions as long as you reference the source, Helen Heron, author, and Heron Publishing.

Helen H. Heron, author of College Countdown, A Planning Guide For High School Students, at