“That’s a good question.”

Published by MrHonner on

“That’s a good question.”

I’ve done it a hundred thousand times in my career. A student is trying to solve a problem and calls me over. They ask a question that indicates they are right where they should be. I praise them for asking such a question. And then I walk away.

Some students find it frustrating at first. They expect an answer to their question. Well, they expect a different kind of answer. They will soon understand that I have answered them: I’ve indicated they have asked an important question, and by not answering it, I’ve suggested they are capable of answering it themselves. They learn to recognize it as validation, though it may not offer as much assistance as they hoped for.

It takes time and practice to learn how much validation, and how much assistance, each student needs. I err sometimes, but it’s an important investment in the classroom culture I hope to build each year. It’s such an integral part of my classroom experience that it’s been mentioned in valedictory addresses.

And it feels likes it’s been taken away in remote teaching. So much of that 10-second interaction relies on being there together: the body language that accompanies the question; the glimpse at the paper; the quick read of the group mates; the half smile that gives some warmth to a superficially cold response; the eavesdropping as I walk away to make sure the right message was received. It just doesn’t happen like this in a Zoom meeting. Which is not to say I can’t build this kind of classroom culture remotely. It’s just harder without my familiar tools.

When I wrapped up my emergency remote learning journal last year, I wasn’t expecting to pick it up again this fall. Not because I thought everything would be back to normal, but because professional exhaustion prevented me from thinking about starting a new school year remotely. But we’re here now. And there are still lots of things to think about and adapt to. And new tools to build.

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Categories: Teaching

1 Comment

Rey · September 20, 2020 at 9:44 am

Before “this”, I would thank my students for not googling what I was teaching. If feared that if they did, they would realize they did not need teachers. I did not use any platforms.
Since “this”, I have realized they need teachers more than ever. Even though AP classroom has videos for every topic, they are still coming to me for help.

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