This evening my professor proposed a question that seemed simple enough; How do you ask your students a question?
Many of us, myself included, described what questions to ask but the professor probed for more specific ideas relating to HOW we ask a question.
When I attempted to describe what kinds of questions you can ask a student, my professor asked me what did you just do to try and answer my question? Well… I did what I’ve been told my whole life. If you have the answer to a question, raise your hand and wait to be called upon.
This raising of hands is exactly what the professor modelled us not to do. We are not to ask questions and request students to raise their hands and wait to be called upon. Weird, right? I have been taught my whole life that this was what was appropriate. However, research has brought on some new ideas.
What are these ideas exactly? It goes like this: When you ask students to raise their hand they are raising it for two reasons. They either know the answer, or they are making an attempt to answer. What about the kids who do not raise their hand? Think about the students in your class right now. We know our keeners, we know our quiet ones. How do we get them ALL engaged? The research has also said that if you call upon a student at random to answer a question they will provide better answers that are more in depth.
When we think about the students who are not raising their hand, they are not thinking about the question because they may not want to or they know someone else will do the work for them. If we keep the students on the edge of their seat knowing they could be called upon it engages their brain to think about the question asked of them.
Now, you understand the research but the question remains; HOW do we ask the student a question?
Here are the three steps provided to me by my professor:
1) Propose the question
2) Wait 3-5 seconds (processing time)
3) Choose a student to answer
I can hear the uproar of teachers including myself already. What do we do about classroom management? How do we keep the children quiet? What about the students with anxiety?
While we are human and we can’t always perfect our instruction as it is ever changing, my professor suggested that for students with anxiety to give them more processing time. Asking them to think about it and let you know when they’re ready and asking another student is also a possible solution.
As far as classroom management goes, I can only share my opinion. If you can teach a student to raise their hand when they have an answer rather than blurting, you can teach a student to sit quietly and wait to be called upon.
As I reflect on what I learnt in this class, I believe it is something I will carry with me into my professional career. Because my professor has began training us not to raise our hands, it has made me realize that it forces me to think about the answer to all his questions rather than only thinking of the answers I already know. All research aside, I have experienced the benefit of this method of asking a question and conclude that it can indeed be efficient.