Teaching Dark Lord Part two

jstallcup at juno.com jstallcup at juno.com
Sun May 19 22:39:01 EDT 2002

Robyn noted:

<><I think there is a big issue for learning teachers in this context,
because being okay with being questioned by your students depends a lot
on how confident and experienced you are, I think. I have a seminar I
have given to new tutors (university instructors) in which the message
is that over-preparation can be a weakness rather than a strength. New
teachers are always worried about getting a question they can't answer -
I personally think that is a sign of a lively class.<><>

I agree.  I have several techniques to handle questions I can't or don't
want to answer, or don't have an immediate answer for.  If appropriate
(meaning, they can figure it out based on what we've been talking about),
I'll say, "what an interesting question.  What does everyone think about
that?"  Generally, bouncing questions back to the class is very
effective, as long as it's the right kind of question.

Because I teach children's literature to future teachers, I often get
asked "teaching" questions.  If I don't bounce it back to the class,
sometimes I'll answer based on my own experience (making sure to note
this), and sometimes I'll tell them that that particular topic will be
much more effectively answered in their credential (teacher ed) courses.

And then there are "information" type questions that I genuinely don't
know the answer to.  These I'll think about for a minute or two, to make
sure that I actually can't come up with it and then I'll just tell them
that I don't know, ask if anyone does, and then promise to look it up and
let them know next time.  Then I do just that.  Usually, I'll also take
the opportunity to point out that it is perfectly ok to do this and that
they shouldn't worry that their students will lose respect.  On the
contrary, I think students will have more respect and be grateful for the
honesty.  Seeing it from that perspective (how they react to me doing
this) I hope makes them more confident about doing it in their own

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