Posts Tagged questioning

The One Word Teachers and Parents Should Avoid

Be cautious of “Why?” questions. Asking, “Why?” is one of the most frequently used and ineffective questions. It not only has an accusatory overtone, but it also blocks communications because it prompts negative feelings. Let’s prove the point. Say the following question aloud so you can hear yourself:

“Why are you doing that?”

Notice that when you asked this question, your voice pitch rose higher and your volume increased. Also, notice the effect on your emotions when you asked, this “Why?” question.

Now, say the following aloud so you can hear yourself:

“What do you think we should do now?”

Notice that the emotional aspect was reduced because the aim was toward a resolution rather than on the cause. The … >>>


Do all discipline conversations need to be private?


If 95% of the kids are attentively listening, but two boys are making faces to each other and laughing, clearly not paying attention, how do you refocus them without calling them out in front of the class?  I get that it’s more effective to ask them about their behavior, but I wonder if I can I do that in front of everyone? And can I do the follow-up questioning in front of the whole class as well? I can’t really pull them aside when I’m the one teaching! Help, please!


When you follow the DWS approach, you are asking the student to assess a level of behavior.  This has a different feel to it than “calling a … >>>


Student who passively refuses to answer reflective questions.

QUESTION (Part One):

I’ve heard you say “The person who asks the questions controls the conversation.” However, I have a child in my first grade class this year who refuses to answer any of my reflective questions.



If you are not happy and would like me to help you, let me know what you would like me to do. There is no hurry; take your time. I’ll be here to help you when you want me to help.”

If you would like me to help you find a friend, let me know.

If you want to talk to me alone, just let me know.

QUESTION (Part Two):

Since he does not respond, I eventually feel forced … >>>


How do you do this with a whole class?


I’m having trouble picturing how the DWS process can be done with an entire class at once.  I can see how the conversation works with one child but how would you deal with a whole class that is misbehaving?  Do you ask each child to tell you what level they’re on?

RESPONSE (from a member of the DWS mailring):

DWS works pretty much the same whether you’re dealing with the whole class, a small group, or just one child. The same 4 layered steps of the Teaching Model apply.   The same 3 steps of the Raise Responsibility system are used when necessary.  When you address the whole class, often one or two kids spontaneously take on the responding role, … >>>


Telling vs. Asking

No one likes to be TOLD what to do. Think of a time when someone told you what to do or told you that you had to do something. Notice how it conjures up a negative feeling.

I grew up with a friend who, when told what to do by a parent, would find an excuse NOT to do it. Even if it was something he wanted to do, such as going outside to play, he would find an excuse to stay indoors just because he was TOLD.

Depending upon the other person’s mental frame at the time, when we tell a person what to do—regardless of how admirable our intentions—the message is often PERCEIVED either as an attempt to … >>>


A Key to Effective Parenting

A magazine headlined the following: “DO KIDS HAVE TOO MUCH POWER? Yes, say many parents.”

Major points of the article include overindulgence and the coddling of children in an attempt to insulate them from any discomfort.

The article noted that it is a little ironic that the success and new found prosperity—the very accomplishments and good fortune that parents so desperately desire to share—actually put children at risk.

Indulged children are often less able to cope with stress because  parents have created an atmosphere where their whims are indulged. Such children grow up  assuming that they’re entitled and that life should be a bed of roses.

Young people manipulate parents by their constant asking —and thereby controlling the situation. Parents … >>>


What if a student won’t acknowledge Level B?


I once had a grade 8 student who said, “It doesn’t matter what level I say I’m on, you’re always going to find a way to tell me that I’m on an unacceptable level.”

I’m wondering what a teacher might say in response to something like that?

RESPONSE from Tammy, shared on the DWS Mailring:

I’d probably ask, “Can you show me, then, how the behavior fits into a higher level?… >>>


Can you give me some examples of reflective questions?


Language is my biggest stumbling block. I know what I want to say but on the spur of the moment I often find it hard to put into words. As I develop new habits with this discipline approach, I sometimes feel a bit tongue-tied. Can you give me some examples of questions that don’t sound manipulative or coercive.


Developing new habits can be a challenge at first, but remember that any skill gets easier with practice! There are many questions in Dr. Marshall’s book that can be used to prompt reflection (pages 19-20.)

It’s important to remember that tone of voice is very important when asking questions, so as to avoid any sense of sarcasm or coercion.

Here … >>>