Friday, January 7

"What do you think?"

My favorite quote: Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon. E.M. Forester

Throughout the course of my teaching day, I ask the question, “What do you think?” over and over and over.  It seems to be my response to almost everything.

My students ask an abundance of questions.  This is what I have taught them to do.   We’ve spent months discussing that asking questions is the key to learning.  What they are beginning to notice, however, is that I don’t provide the answers.  That’s their job!

I want my students to be active learners.  I want my students to be personally responsible.  I want them to think!  To me, the first step is asking, “What do you think?”  Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t provide assistance; it means that I reflect back, wait and give them the gift of time.

For someone like me who moves quickly and has a high energy level, I had to learn to lengthen my “wait time” when working with students.  With a lot of practice, I developed the ability to give students a chance to verbalize, process and think about things before I plowed ahead.  Even today, after all these many years of teaching, I will silently count to five to make sure I don’t rush/correct a response.   Those five seconds can be really long for a teacher, but so vital to a student’s learning and thinking.

Often times one of my students will start to ask me a question and then interrupt themselves because they know what I will say in response.  They roll their eyes and state back to me, “I know… I have to think!” 

Then, we smile. 
Then, they think!
Then, they learn.


Ann Braden said...

What a great post. I love your approach! Time and patience are so important, both in the moment after the students question and in the long run, so they grow to understand that they are able to step into the thinking role. Isn't it amazing how they can rise to the challenge?

Ann Braden said...

Sorry, the previous post was left by me. I didn't mean to have my name replaced by dashes...

NancyTeaches said...

Hi Ann,
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I like the way you said "both in the moment after and in the long run." Great way of expressing what I'm trying to say! Thanks again for stopping by and adding your name after the dashes:) Nancy