Imagine: you are teaching a class on Concave and Convex mirrors and suddenly a hand shoots up. You pause exasperated and say, “ Rohan, please wait until I finish the chapter to ask questions.” The hand drops back down and never comes back up later on.
You feel a little bad but questions have a way of derailing you from your objective, which right now is to teach 40 Class 9 students about concave and convex mirrors. Questions get a bad rap because for one, when frequently asked, they get annoying, and two, they put us on the spot and force us to think.
As a teacher, it is important that you recognize the value that questions add to learning. A questioning student is one who is learning.
Here are 7 reasons why questions are good and why you should encourage them in your classroom.
1.Questions break the monotony of the classroom – What is the point of a classroom where you are the only person who is talking? Questions have the ability to break the ice, whether they are asked by you or the class. If you ask the students a question, then you will know if what you have been teaching for the past 20 minutes has penetrated their heads. If they ask the questions, then you will definitely know that they have been giving the lesson some thought.
2. Questions breed more questions – Regardless of who is asking the question, be it a student or a teacher, the birth of one question always leads to the appearance of another. Sometimes these questions might lead right into what you plan to teach next, which is a good thing, the other times, they might lead to your students acquiring some information which they never knew before. Either way, there is no downside to it. In case you feel like the questions are getting away from you and taking away from the lesson, you can always put them on hold and answer them at the end of the class.
3. Questions force children to think – If you want to know how much your students have understood of the lesson so far, instead of asking them a question and having them nod their heads in perfect unison, pose a question to them and wait for a few minutes. After you see their brains working hard, you can always call on a student to answer the question. This way, everybody has at least thought of an answer, even if they didn’t get to answer and this way, they have actually put some effort into thinking of an answer.
4. Questions help children learn – Learning and questions are tied together. Learning that happens without any questions being asked is not learning, but rather information simply being absorbed. When a student asks questions, it is because they are interested in knowing more about the subject. Asking their questions is a child’s way of developing critical abilities like logical thinking, complex thinking and decision making. If students ask questions, they are thinking beyond the material that exists in their text book. When you ask your students a question, you are actually stimulating their interest in the text and therefore encouraging them to learn.
5. It increases student engagement with the lesson – Teaching is not a one way process where you talk at students and they listen passively. A good teacher knows that learning happens when both she and the student are actively participating in the lesson. Asking questions (the right ones) increases student engagement. Regardless of whether a student answers right or wrong, they are participating in the class, instead of simply listening.
6. Questions are a sign of interest – Sometimes questions can be exasperating. But before you berate a question for asking the question, appreciate the fact that a question has been asked. Questions represent curiosity and interest in the lesson that is being taught. If the question is not really relevant to the lesson, gently deflect it.
7. Students asking questions help you become a better teacher – Some questions posed by students can be stupefying because there is no one teacher in the world who has all the answers at her fingertips. If a question catches you off-guard because you don’t have the answer to it, don’t fret. Instead honestly let your students know that you don’t know the answer and that you will have the answer ready the next time you come to class. This will definitely endear you to your students because not only does it make you more approachable to them, but it also shows them not even adults know everything and that learning is a process that never ends.
What is your opinion about questioning in classroom? Please share your ideas with us in the comments section below!