I hope all readers of this website have had a wonderful holiday!  I want to share a about a problem-solving tool a non-teacher friend of mine gave me for Christmas, and how it might be fun to use in an educational context.  It’s called Oblique Strategies.  I hope you enjoy it!

The Oblique Strategies

Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt developed a deck of cards with the idea that it would help artists overcome creative blocks and solve problems associated with producing music.  Each card contains a saying on it designed to get you to look at your problem in a different way.  When faced with a dilemma, you draw one card from the shuffled deck.  Sometimes, the relevance of the card is unclear, but you are supposed to trust in a deeper meaning to the card.  In this way, the cards are meant to promote “lateral thinking.”

For Teachers

Imagine that your instructional support specialist or educational coach put all of their wisdom into a deck of cards.  What nuggets of advice would they contain?  I thought of my unit of instruction that I’m writing as part of my teacher evaluation.  I feel I’m missing an opportunity to mix up my strategies and go outside of my comfort zone.  I thought about this problem and immediately drew a card that said:

How would someone else do it?

My thoughts immediately went to all of the other gifted teachers I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with in the past.  My mind settled on a couple of new angles such as incorporating more movement into a couple of the lessons and using technology to “redefine” one of the earlier tasks in my unit (the “R” in the SAMR model).  At least the card got me to thinking.

Wanting to test the deck further, I thought of a child who had some challenging behaviors last year.  I drew a card

Go outside, shut the door.

Two for two?  Maybe not, but it did make me chuckle.

Coach In A Box

In some cases, the art of instructional coaching is bringing to the surface something that the teacher already knows.  We sometimes get in a rut, and we need something to break us free.  The deck is a novelty that might just spark some creative solutions.  If you were writing a deck specifically for teachers, what would you put on a card?

Have a fantastic New Year, kind readers!