The Answers Depend on the Questions You Ask

The answers depend on the questions you ask. What a simple and provocative statement! When we worry about students who don’t seem to be making progress we often start by asking questions such as these:

–Why can’t F. retell simple stories?
–Why does F. get a blank look on her face when you ask her a simple question?
–Why does F. sometimes seem to know what’s going on and at other times, she hasn’t a clue?

I could go one and on in this same vein but I don’t think it’s necessary since you may have already noticed that all these questions are phrased negatively – what D. can’t do. They all operate from weaknesses and deficits. The answers will only lead me to more cant’s and probably even some “wont’s”.

If, on the other hand, I explore what D. can do, and what her interests seem to be I might be able to use her strengths and interests to help her improve her ability to listen and attend so that she can learn more and better. I noticed that F. likes to draw. Often, though, her drawings are simple and feminine in nature. How can I start with something she’s already doing and enjoys to get F. to think, write, and read on a deeper level?

4 thoughts on “The Answers Depend on the Questions You Ask

  1. I am very happy to have found your blog,Elisa! I enjoyed reading your “ruminations” and I happen to agree that negatively phrased questions will lead to more can’ts/won’ts and that looking for can dos is a wonderful way to find an answer. Cindy

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  2. Hi Cindy,Glad that you found me. 🙂 Now, that I’ve made my blog public (it took a while to work up the courage!) and that people are beginning to respond, I feel more confident about continuing the conversation. Hope to read your comments again, soon!Elisa

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  3. Hi Elisa!It took me a while to work up the courage to make my first blog public too! It was really scary for me to put my thoughts/ideas out in such a public forum. I thought I would sound stupid. I think your blog makes for excellent reading and much reflection – a critical part of being a good teacher I think. Keep on blogging!Cindy

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  4. Thank you, Cindy! It’s comments like yours that help me want to keep blogging. I’m actually enjoying posting and it helps me reflect about what’s going on in the classroom. Although I have a professional journal as well, it’s nice to post public comments that others can respond to. Do you blog?Elisa

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