Those of you with Year 8 classes will be familiar with this scenario!
Teacher: “Get your books out and get ready to start”
Pupil: “I forgot my book”
Teacher: “Well, sort yourself out with something to write on!”
Teacher: Ask someone for a page.”
Pupil asks the person beside them for a page, they’re not able to help.
Pupil (to teacher): “He hasn’t got a page; what do I do now”
Teacher: (getting increasingly agitated) “Ask someone else!”
Teacher (now very agitated): “I DON’T CARE…JUST GET A PAGE FROM SOMEONE. DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING FOR YOU!”
Pupil:“Ok, ok…. I was only asking.”
This is a silly example but the central point is pertinent – why is it that pupils often seem unable to solve problems for themselves without having to ask the teacher?
Part of the problem could be the way pupils have been taught to behave in classrooms. We ask them to raise their hands if they want to get out of their seat or talk. They also come to see the teacher as a “font of knowledge” and therefore the teacher is the only person worth asking for help in the classroom.
I came across an interesting blog article the other day from Jane Hewitt (twitter: @janeh271) where she talks about the way she deals with this issue and tries to encourage pupils to sort out problems for themselves.
She uses a strategy called “Ask 3 before me” where students who are ‘stuck’ must ask the question to three of their peers before asking the teacher. This strategy encourages children to learn from one another and to think in a very deep way about what they are learning to do.
A few other strategies are mentioned including one with the interesting acronym SNOT….that should stick in their heads!
The full article can be found here