Nowadays aside out of a cordial greeting, I very rarely if ever now "address" a whole class verbally. Instead the lesson is pushed out in advance via Google Classroom. This gives me time to answer 1:1 questions and address small groups. The result? Students feel valued, considered and the more questions they ask of me and their peers, the more they are learning. The students in my English classes at a range of schools are often suprised at the time given to their questions and the seriousness with which I treat their clarifications. Often a student remarks that there is often very little question time or allowance in their other classes. I'm sure it's not because teachers are scared of student questions.....pretty sure...well kind of sure.
Why could teachers be scared of student questions?
- Teachers often feel that students are time-wasting asking questions. It is more likely that students have not received the lesson content the way it was intended.
- The time allocated to questions means the intended content is not covered. This is OKAY. Students learn at different speeds, even varying with respect to content. Remember teaching must occur at the students' learning speeds.
- There's a fear students won't stay on track when one question from one student is being dealt with. I'd argue they're more likely to stay on track when students are being asked questions and they're putting forward questions themselves.
- Teachers may appear or may not actually know the answer. This is awesome and should be hoped for and not feared! I hope all my students become smarter than me. I need them to for our common future! Anyway, there's always Google or their peers.
- Teachers are unsure how to ensure academic questions. This is a fair call, but sufficient scaffolding and exemplars can ease this concern.
- Teachers prefer silent classrooms. This is about control more than learning. If students are questioning learning and acquired content, we want learning noise and lots of it. Many students learn and embed best through verbal/written questioning.