TRT Podcast #139: 3 Questions teachers should stop asking (and what to say instead)
I learned about these three toxic questions from multilingual author and expert Elizabeth Jiménez Salinas, and I couldn’t wait to share them with you! Learn what questions to avoid and what to say instead.
Listen to the episode here
Full episode transcript
Anna Geiger: Hello! Anna Geiger here from The Measured Mom. This week I'm coming to you with a very quick, practical episode, and it's based on something I learned from Elizabeth Jiménez Salinas. She is a multilingual author and expert that I listened to on Science of Reading: The Podcast, from Amplify.
This is part of a big project I'm working on behind the scenes to put together a really useful podcast index for you. It will have podcasts from all different podcasters, organized in a giant list, with direct links to those podcast episodes based on their topic. There will be a section about English language learners, about comprehension, about vocabulary, phonics, and so on.
That's been really fun because I've been listening to at least five episodes a day, and I'm adding the most impactful ones to that blog post, so I'll let you know when that's ready.
As I was listening to this particular episode, Elizabeth shared what she calls "toxic questions" that teachers should avoid. I thought this was really excellent, whether you're teaching English language learners or children for whom English is their first language.
I wanted to share those really quickly and, of course, I'll link to that podcast episode in my show notes.
So the first one to avoid is asking, "Who can tell me something about...?"
Instead of saying that, a better question would be, "What comes to your mind when you think of...?" That way kids don't need to be embarrassed if what they said really doesn't have to do with the topic. This gives everyone a chance to participate without feeling like there's a lot of risk involved.
The next toxic question to avoid is, "Are there any questions?"
A better thing to ask would be, "What kinds of questions do you have?" Or, "What kind of questions might someone have about this topic?" Or even, "So-and-so is absent. What kinds of questions do you think they'll have about this topic tomorrow?"
You could even have your students turn to a partner and you could say, "Formulate a question someone might have about today's lesson."
The final toxic question to avoid is, "Does everyone understand?"
Instead of asking that, you could have them SHOW you what they understand. You could say, "Show me what you understand by..." It might be writing something on their dry erase board or filling out an exit ticket. It's a way for them to show you what they understand versus sitting there silently and being confused.
I hope you found those three toxic questions helpful. I'll link to those in the show notes which you can find at themeasuredmom.com/episode139. Talk to you next time!
Closing: That's all for this episode of Triple R Teaching. For more educational resources, visit Anna at her home base, themeasuredmom.com, and join our teaching community. We look forward to helping you reflect, refine, and recharge on the next episode of Triple R Teaching!
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Science of Reading: The Podcast – Improving dual language instruction: Elizabeth Jiménez Salinas
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