So here’s the thing. It is not your job to do all the talking… An odd idea for a teacher, I know.
But too often, classrooms are filled with teachers who talk and students to listen. Gone are the days where this is our job.
If you are doing more talking then your students, you are working too hard. Our job as teachers is to make our students think, which means less talking and more asking. Yes, asking questions. How many things do you say in a lesson, which could actually be turned into a question instead?
Just because your students are listening does not mean they are learning. We need to ensure our students are actually thinking to be learning, and the best way to do this is through asking questions.
Now, this does mean you have to think of other creative ways to teach in order to get students thinking, but it also means the learning will be far more engaging than you just sharing a bunch of facts and showing them what it is they are doing (let’s be real here, your students don’t need to listen to you talk all the time).
When I teach, I have a few go-to questions I use over and over again:
What are we learning?
How do you know?
Explain that in more detail?
Can you add to that?
These questions can be applied in any subject, and mean our students have to actually think about their learning, not about the activity.
Why else are using questions a great idea?
Because it means your students are talking, listening, connecting and challenging each other. A great bonus about teaching through questions is it means our students have something to do other than listen. Think/pair/share, talking partners, clock partners, see/think/wonder; these are examples of different ways we can have our students think and talk about learning, not just listen to us talk about learning.
So how does this look in a classroom?
1. Ask more questions than you do share facts and content.
2. Think of and plan creative ways to get your students thinking.
3. Create key questions which match the essential learning.
4. Include an opportunity for students to talk to each other every 5 minutes or so (they get bored of hearing you talk for longer than that – sorry)
5. Always ask a follow-up question; Tell me more… Why do you think that? Can anyone add to that? What makes you say that? How do you know?
Remember, questions mean the students do all the hard work in the lesson, your hard work comes in thinking about how to put a great lesson together and working with your students on their learning.
*Not sure how many questions you ask or if your students are really listening? A great way to see is to record yourself and do a question audit recording how many questions you ask and noticing where you could have asked a question instead of giving a fact.