We recently reposted a popular blog post about asking open-ended questions. We are thrilled that early childhood educators are becoming more intentional about engaging children in meaningful learning conversations. But has this ever happened to you?
Teacher: Why did you decide to put the triangle-shaped block on top?
Teacher: Because why?
I think all educators would agree that there is a skill to crafting and asking open-ended questions. Did you know there is also a learning curve for answering these wonderful questions that require thought and more than a one-word response? When teachers ask an open-ended question, the focus of the conversation switches to the child. To formulate an answer, the child needs time to pause, think, and reflect. Some children are used to this type of inquiry while others need practice to become comfortable verbalizing their thoughts and opinions.
So, how can we help children develop the skills necessary to answer open-ended questions?
How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I posed that question to a random selection of contacts via text message. What did I discover? Everyone in my sample group spreads on the PB first, then the J. There are a variety of ways though to apply the jelly, but in my random group, the jelly always comes second.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make me think about Behavior Guidance, a dimension in the CLASS® toddler observation tool. Especially the first two indicators of behavior guidance: proactive and supporting positive behavior. Proactive is the peanut butter! It goes first. That layer of peanut butter is the base for the jelly, which promotes positive behavior.
I was a kindergarten teacher for eight years at a public school. I loved my job, but somewhere along the road I started to become crotchety. I was often annoyed with my colleagues and frustrated with the demands of the district, and I was sure I knew better than any training or professional development session I would ever be forced to attend.
Shared physical presence is a large part of how we’re used to connecting with each other. Strong connections and relationships are important for children who may have recently experienced loss, high stress, or trauma. As teachers connect with children in a virtual setting, it can be more challenging to think about how to create a safe space for learning, sharing experiences, and taking risks.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But after more than 18 months, it’s clear that the pandemic is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.