Students are always bubbling with questions! In fact, it’s important to promote the habit of asking questions and doubts in the class. This not only helps students in their learning process but also fosters a good student-teacher relationship. But what can a teacher do when students ask tough questions that may require some research on the teacher’s part? Even worse, how can teachers respond to personal questions that could get embarrassing? Sometimes, teachers simply don’t have the time to accommodate questions. In such cases, here are 3 smart ways to handle difficult questions from students:
Encourage Students to Investigate on Their Own
Some subject-related questions could be tough, even for teachers. They may need time to research the question or refer to a resource. In such a case, teachers can simply direct the student to investigate the answer on his/her own. Fix a time later in the day or at a later date to discuss the question after the student has done his research.
This has two benefits – it gives you time to analyse the question yourself, and it also promotes self-learning and research capabilities in students. It’s a good idea to suggest the right learning material or reference book that the student can use while finding the answer to the question.
Direct the Question to Other Students
If a student asks a question that you know the answer to, but need time to come up with a structured answer, there’s an easy way to buy time. You can ask the same question to the remaining students in class. Give them time to come up with their answers and help the discussion flow towards the right answer. Towards the end, you can either discuss the correct answer yourself or make the student summarise what the others discussed in class.
By doing so, you encourage healthy peer-peer discussion, which is an efficient learning technique. You also help student stress reduce and make them understand that most questions can be answered by discussing them with each other. This encourages knowledge sharing and helps students bond better with each other and with the teacher. In addition, it also helps build analytical skills and critical thinking skills among students.
Answer Vaguely – For Personal Questions
Sometimes students wish to get friendly with their teachers. However, being young, they do not really know their boundaries and may end up asking upsetting or embarrassing questions. When in such a situation, you can give a vague answer that does not really answer the question. You can immediately move on to another topic, or start discussing the student’s performance or grades.
This is a good strategy to avert embarrassing questions without making the student uncomfortable. However, if the student persists in asking the question, remain calm, maintain eye contact, and then politely let the student know that such a question is inappropriate.
These are 3 smart ways in which you can handle tough questions from students. As a general rule of thumb, never discourage your students from asking questions. Always ensure that they know they can reach out to you at any point of time to clarify concepts and doubts. At the same time, it is important to teach students questioning etiquette. You can take out time to talk about the right questions to ask, the right way of asking questions, etc. with your class. If you teach using online classes apps, you can set aside a time where students can post all their questions, and you can answer them at your convenience. This helps avoid unnecessary or embarrassing questions while giving you time to frame your answers in the best possible manner.