Although the effect teachers have on student behavior is crystal clear, the way in which teachers elicit the kind of behavior they want from students often appears elusive—especially to those entering the classroom for the first time.
Most teachers strive to be positive and polite, so very often they use subtle, open-ended questions in hopes that students will get the hint and change their behavior. Here are a few examples from Rob Barnes’s book The Practical Guide to Primary Classroom Management to help illustrate what I mean:
Eliciting the type of behavior we want our students to engage in starts by turning questions into statements. Notice how easy it is for students to skirt or respond sarcastically to open-ended questions:
Turning questions into statements of need is more effective:
Whenever you use a statement, you have a much better chance of receiving the desired outcome. As Barnes points out, “Classes quickly realize a rhetorical question because experienced teachers do not use them—or if they do, the class knows better than to shout in chorus.” You also begin to demonstrate that you know what you want.