The ideal conversation, of course, prompts children to both think and respond:
Teacher: Why did you decide to put the triangle-shaped block on top?
Child: So it can be the roof.
Teacher: What might happen if you didn’t have a block on top?
Child: Then the rain might come in.
Teacher: How else could you keep the rain out?
Child: With an umbrella.
Teacher: How would that work?
Unfortunately, I notice when I’m with children that while I tend to ask a lot of questions, they’re not always open-ended. I really have to work to broaden my repertoire of questions and be quite intentional about asking questions that encourage children to come up with their own ideas and put those ideas into words (and not just answer yes/no or with a “correct” response such as “yellow” or “pig”).
So, how can we remember to ask these kinds of broad, thought-provoking questions?
Many thanks to MMCI instructors Kathy McKechnie and Nancy Walsh for sharing their wonderful ideas! Any errors or misinterpretations in them are my own (not theirs), as I modified them to fit the format.
For more teacher tips, you can read my previous blog post Teacher Tips: Engaging Children in Conversations.
We’ve all had kids in the classroom who push limits, can’t manage their feelings, constantly demand attention. Believe it or not, they are sending you a message. When kids misbehave, they are operating based on mistaken learning. With time, patience, and planning you can help them relearn! If you reframe your thinking about children’s behavior and recognize that misbehavior is usually based on mistaken learning, you are well on your way to helping your kids.
When I first heard that I was going to have to be observed and coached for my job, I was not thrilled by any means. I immediately thought, Great, someone is going to watch me and tell me how terrible I am. I sincerely thought it was going to be nothing but a negative experience.