"The quality of a question is not judged by its complexity but by the complexity of thinking that it provokes."
- Joseph O'Connor
As a teacher, I get caught up in the rote questions, seeking evidence of comprehension (why were the Ancient Greeks such adept sailors?), or the quantity of students who have had similar experiences (who knows what "The Goonies" is?). Sometimes, I step out of my safety zone and ask students to hypothesize what might have happened, or to justify a previous response. I'm too comfortable. I need to ask better questions. I recently watched a video from the Teaching Channel that made me re-think my own comfort level with questioning. Teacher Thristene Francisco explained in "Higher Order Questions: A Path to Deeper Learning" that if you can get students to question the text you can get THEN get them to better comprehend what they read. This is the first I've seen Bloom's Taxonomy flipped on its head like this, and it is motivating me to see what my students can do.
As a parent, it is important to ask better questions so that you can know who your children are. What do they love? What are they scared of? What are they struggling with? What are they proud of? What do they wish we would do differently (besides make vegetable-free dinners)? We need to eat meals with our children screen-free. We need to turn the radio down and have conversations in the car. We need to use the wait time that we use so regularly in the classroom. We need to let them ask questions of us and answer them as honestly as we reasonably can. We need to let them see our flaws and our strengths, to see what challenges us, and to see what our long-term goals are. They need to see that we are human, just as we need to see that they are capable of being more than carbon copies of ourselves.
As as school leader, it is important to ask better questions to know what direction to go in. It is Springtime, and therefore schools will soon start listing any available administrative positions for next year. If offered a position as an administrator for next year, I would spend as much time as possible asking questions to get to know the school's culture and its individual teachers and staff. What do teachers feel are the strengths and weaknesses of the school? If there is an overwhelming response in any one area, wouldn't it make sense to devote some energy to making sure a certain program continues? Or to collaborating on a solution to something that is deemed a perpetual problem?
As a learner, I find it impossible to not ask questions of myself. As I become more and more of a connected educator, thanks to my growing PLN, I find myself reflecting on a daily basis. What can I do better in the classroom as a teacher? In the lunchroom to foster better relationships with adolescents I do not know? In my school community to support my principal as I complete practicum/internship hours? John Dewey wrote that we do not learn from our experiences, but from reflecting on our experiences. When we reflect with our students, our children, our teachers, and ourselves, the growth that can come out of these better and bigger questions is limitless.
I intend this blog to be a reflection journal of sorts, on topics such as teaching, leadership, pedagogy, and tacos.