Tuesday, March 30, 2010


How many teachers have ever heard one of the following questions after you’ve given an in class or homework assignment:

1. Is this right?
2. Is this what you want?
3. Will you read over this to make sure I’m doing it right?
4. Am I doing this right?
5. I couldn’t find this one, can you “help” me?

     And the list goes on and on…. Personally, I hate these questions! I hate the fact my students are more concerned with being right then trying and being wrong. Early in my career I loved it when students asked me these questions because I felt I had something to prove. When I got a question like this I was quick to give them the answer and showcase just how much I knew about my content (that’s right I’m the man!) Early on I felt like I would be doing a disservice to them by not answering these questions because I’m the teacher, right? This is what I do, right? In recent times, I’ve come to despise this practice but I still find myself telling them right or wrong, yes or no because I still fear I would be a great disservice by not assisting them in this way. Could lying be my savior from this practice? This brings me to my story.

     I gave the class an assignment from their textbook. It was a reading assignment and they had questions to answer concerning the reading. I went over the directions and questions for the class assignment. After finishing the reading assignment, students broke up into pairs and some opted to do it by themselves. I started walking around the room and I noticed the class breezed through the first couple questions, they were simple recall questions. Now comes some of the higher order thinking questions and true to form I get my first hand. I moved across the room to see what she wanted, “Mr. H. is this right?” pointing to her paper. Obviously, the old feeling of wanting to showcase myself started to rear its ugly head and so did my feelings of dismay at the thought of answering this kind of question, again! At that point it hit me, I’m a liar now… So, I reached down picked up the paper, looked over the answer and said, “You want to know if this is the right answer? (I paused for dramatic effect) You are asking me, a compulsive liar if you have the right answer?” At this point she looked up at me and said, “Really?” I said, “Really! I can give you an answer but can you really trust what I’m telling you is right?” With that statement, she sighed, took her paper, and opened her book. I noticed her discussing this question with others later in the period. I did this for every kid who asked me a question that period. When all was said and done we discussed the questions in class and the class did a really nice job with the material and they seemed to have learned something about the content (without my help). For her, she had to discover the answer which reinforced the idea of reading and research. For me, I had exercised the demon!


Content Experts. This lesson is for me as well as the students. I learned I don’t have to be the expert and my hope as I do this more often with the students is they start to realize they not only can be but they are the experts, even if they aren’t the teacher!

Next entry: Stewing..

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