This year I'm part of a cohort of Idaho teachers called The Coaching Network. We met for the first time in early August for three days of professional development. As I sat and soaked up all I could from our four coaches, I also took mental notes about the quality teaching strategies they were using. I'm learning from all four coaches, but I found myself latching on to a consistent strategy used by one of them in particular. She repeatedly said these words:
What questions do you have about...?
Pretty much, without fail, she would ask that question after she finished teaching or giving directions. The frequent use of this phrase let me know it was cool to ask my own questions, to ask for clarification, or to admit a misunderstanding.
I also made note of her wording. Whereas in my classroom the phrase would sound more like, "Do you have any questions?" there is an element of intentionality in her wording that though subtle, seems important and powerful. The assumption is that asking questions is not only welcome but expected.
After hearing her ask this question repeatedly throughout our three days together, I made myself a goal to do the same for my own students. I can say I've done a fairly decent job and plan on making it a habit, as it is with my coach. When given the chance, even first graders have insightful questions to ask, and learning that it's cool to ask questions is the message I want them to hear loud and clear.
P.S. I now have a Facebook page. Click on the graphic to come say hi. :)