Too many questions, driving me nuts!

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by Sasha Gobert, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. Sasha Gobert

    Sasha Gobert New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 19, 2016

    Hi,
    I'm trying to find quick strategies/resources to help stop all the ENDLESS questions and students making me feel guilty, frustrated, bombarded, or angry because they are the ANTITHESIS of self-sufficient. I am a high school science teacher doing a favor for a principal whose teacher quit on him and thus, teaching seventh grade social studies this year. It's already difficult for me switching age levels (maturity/procedures/intrinsic motivation, etc) and subjects as I am not trained to be a social studies teacher but the incessant questions are driving me bananas! We have an online grading system where students may email me and the sheer amount of crazy ass questions I get a day is mind-boggling. I can't turn the feature off and if I don't answer them online they will hound me before class, showing up during periods they don't belong in, coming during lunch time etc. until their endless barrage of questions is met with satisfaction. How do I make it stop?

    For example, I assigned an end of unit project; very simple, just your basic informational pamphlet. The instructions and format were one page and then I gave them a five section rubric to follow. Most of the questions I feel like come from them not reading. They just want to be told what to do instead of having to bother reading. I ignore most inane questions but all the constant nagging is really starting to annoy me. I work in a lower-income neighborhood with a school population that is entirely people of color so I want to be supportive of them and normally I would encourage questioning, but I'm starting to feel like its laziness or ineptitude. What can I do?
     
  2.  
  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    841

    Jan 19, 2016

    Hmmm...this is the age where a student might try to take advantage of the teacher, such as you mentioned, asking questions to get out of work. On the other hand, still at this age questions might be genuine even if they sound too simple or off the subject--especially if they seem off the subject. My thoughts on this are that students' questions are the result of their brain trying to make connections among previous learning and new learning. For many modern day students, previous learning is not the same as our learning when we were younger. It is a mixture of television, video games, pop culture music, for some--dealing with hostile environments, and more auditory/kinesthetic learning rather than from reading. Add their age to that and a child's questions will seem unusual and even way off the subject to an adult.

    I wonder if the tables can be turned. I've seen this in several workshops where the teacher will list the students' questions for everyone in the class to seek out the answers. Also, my favorite response to questions is to answer with a question to scaffold the student up to finding the answer on her/his own.
     
  4. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,809
    Likes Received:
    190

    Jan 19, 2016

    When I subbed one of the teachers had an "ask 3, then me rule." The students are encouraged during down time (not lecture time) to ask 3 of their friends for clarification then you. You could simplify to like ask 2 then you rule. Maybe this would help? Or at least dwindle the number of repetitive questions/ answers. Just thought I'd throw it out there.
    Maybe have a q&a time in class say the last 10 mins or so maybe this would help. Maybe if you had this time some of the repetitive questions would be answered as well. Plus the students may help answer questions. I taught lower elementary & encouraged my students to show the class other ways to solve say math problems than I did. We all learn differently.
    One other thing Kudos to you for taking this position on!!! :)
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    14,059
    Likes Received:
    1,883

    Jan 19, 2016

    Some of my students try to ask a lot of questions to waste time, but most ask because they are reluctant to take risks and/or make mistakes. They seek constant clarification instead of using independent learning skills to figure things out for themselves. When I hand out an assignment, I read through it with the class and give a few minutes to answer questions. If I answered the questions in my explanation, I ask for someone else in the class to answer. I also provide a rubric and exemplars, so the students are able to see exactly what I'm looking for.

    For students who ask a lot of questions when working on assessments, I remind them that, in order to achieve an A or a B, they must be doing the work independently. That usually eliminates many of the questions. I do try to provide ongoing feedback on longer term assignments, so I do encourage questions that relate to that. With some of my more persistent "questioners", I have them record their questions on sticky notes, work independently on whatever parts of the task they can for 15 minutes or so, then let them come to me if they still have questions.

    Much of this, in my opinion, has to do with the age of the students more than anything else. They are still relatively new to working at the level of independence their teachers would like, and are learning how to do that along with learning the material.
     
    Caesar753 likes this.
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,148

    Jan 19, 2016

    I think often times asking a million questions is just a way to derail instruction, or trying to control and manipulate the teacher. ("look, I made him go into an explanation for 5 minutes and I don't even care for the answer")
    There are legitimate questions, but there shouldn't be as many.
    I think if you stop answering and telling them to stop asking, they will stop pretty soon.
     
  7. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Messages:
    3,224
    Likes Received:
    147

    Jan 19, 2016

    I usually tell them we're going to work for x minutes in complete silence. If you have a question, write it down and skip that part for now. This works pretty well to curb some of the constant questions.
     
    Linguist92021 likes this.
  8. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,564
    Likes Received:
    743

    Jan 20, 2016

    I think this can also be a developmental difference between teaching upper and lower secondary...the difference between high schoolers and middle schoolers is huge! I've taught both and I was also often frustrated by the "learned helplessness" of middle schoolers. They have to be taught to be self-sufficient. Instead of answering their questions directly, I would sometimes remind them where to look in the directions, or even remind them that they could look up words on their devices when appropriate, etc.

    Even freshmen are so different from seniors...I have one student in particular who is extremely bright and dedicated but who seems to need to repeat directions back to me in the form of a question in order to understand what to do. It's actually interesting when you look at it from a developmental perspective (although I know it can also still be incredibly frustrating!).
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,770
    Likes Received:
    1,003

    Jan 20, 2016

    I teach 8th grade, and I'm not shy about telling them "You figure it out." and then walking away. Especially if I've written the instructions down on paper or a handout. Kids know if I've already explained something, I'll say "I've already explained it, so figure it out." or "Read the directions." and then off I go, before they can complain or ask more questions.

    Refusing to repeat myself makes them pay attention a little more when I explain things, or at the very least causes them to use the resources around them like their instruction sheet or their group mates.
     
    MLB711, Upsadaisy and ms.irene like this.
  10. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 16, 2007
    Messages:
    2,771
    Likes Received:
    53

    Jan 20, 2016

    I teach 6th grade. When I have something like a project or a rubric I'll tell them if they have a question it needs to be specific and they need to indicate which exact part of the project they don't understand. That forces them to re-read (or read for the first time!) the info and they know that can't just ask a random question without attempting to figure out the answer on their own. I tell them they need to point to the exact paragraph/sentence/section of the project description that they don't understand.

    For your e-mailed questions perhaps a quick "This question is answered in the rubric" will get them to not e-mail you without trying on their own.

    Good luck. Middle schoolers can definitely lack in the self-sufficiency area!
     
  11. Susan W

    Susan W New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 19, 2016

    I think it's a combination of nervousness about making mistakes and an attempt to derail instruction. I, too, give detailed and specific written instructions. When I get a question that can be answered from the instructions, I always refer them back to the instructions. I tell them I will only answer questions from students who have read the instructions and can point to something unclear in the instructions. I also sometimes repeat the questions back to the entire class and ask if anybody can assist "George" with the answer.
     
  12. Clay Morgan

    Clay Morgan Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    6

    Apr 4, 2016

    With my kids (7-year-old twins and a 5-year-old), I have a saying, "asked and answered" and I use it when they keep peppering me with variations on the same question over and over.

    I recently gave an assignment to two classes - one 7th and one 8th. I put the assignment, rubric and expectations in writing and reviewed with the class. I also went over the assignment three separate days as a reminder.

    In response to some questions, I reverted to father from teacher. "Do we have to have 3 citations?" "I already answered that four times." "Do we have to type it?" "Already answered that one." "Can I have three paragraphs instead of five?" "Refer to the guidelines and rubric you were given."

    Those questions came to an end.
     
    Upsadaisy likes this.
  13. phillyteacher

    phillyteacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2015
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    124

    Apr 4, 2016

    I tell students to reread the instructions or ask a peer.

    I also heard this great strategy someplace that I use occasionally for verbal instructions. I will tell students up front that if they ask about something I just said they'll have way more work to do. Along the lines of "You only need to do the even problems. If you aren't paying attention and you ask me in a few minutes how many problems to do, I'm going to say all of them. [Student name], which problems should you do?" And the student repeats it back again. And then I follow through - when someone inevitably asks, I tell them all the problems. The students who hear that interaction sadly shake their heads for that poor soul and keep working :)

    I don't do it all that often because most of my assignments aren't set up that way, but it's one I enjoy.
     
    MLB711, Backroads and 2ndTimeAround like this.
  14. Mr Magoo

    Mr Magoo Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2016
    Messages:
    261
    Likes Received:
    56

    Oct 21, 2016

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  15. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,163
    Likes Received:
    1,763

    Oct 21, 2016

    I second this.

    My most frequent response is, what do the instructions on the assignment or board say? My upper elementary kids have gotten much better at working independently.

    Or, I'll say, I already talked about this, ask a neighbor.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
    MLB711 likes this.
  16. greenvelvetsuit

    greenvelvetsuit New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2017
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 28, 2017

    Yes! Listen to MsMar, but don't forget that in order for this to work, the instructions must be meticulous -- concise, clear, and thorough. This, though I have nothing beyond a hunch, is probably the impetus of the OP's crisis of questions. The instructions for the end of unit project are likely sparse, confusing, and inadequate for the grade level. As a head of department I am always telling my teachers to assume nothing, whether they are planning a lesson, designing a unit, or composing the instructions for an assessment. And always, unless it would make no sense to do so, provide examples, models of what success looks like in line with the rubric. Students need these, students learn from these, these answer questions. If you are being bombarded with questions, your first question should not be 'why are these students so thick?' It should be 'what in my instructions may have been unclear?'
    Youtube search: teachable art
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,148

    Jan 29, 2017

    I also found that a lot of times students are really not that lost, they just don't know how to start or what to do next. I used to wanted to pull out my hair, when after spending 10 minutes explaining what to do (in detail, with examples, and they had a paper in front of them reminding them of the steps) and then a kid says "what are we doing?" Then I learned a great technique (I forget from where), to only point them to the next step. It really worked. Most of the time the kid went on with the task, he just needed to get started.

    There are kids who just need to reassurance, because they doubt themselves, or are perfectionists and don't want to mess up. These are genuine cases, and they can be taught how to trust themselves.

    But the constant questions (often off topic) are annoying and I cut them down very quickly.
    Most of the time what I say is "let me explain everything first, hold your questions, and if you still have them, ask them in the end". Usually there are no questions then.
     
  18. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,163
    Likes Received:
    1,763

    Jan 29, 2017

    Two things:

    I learned from the Smart Classroom Management blog (I think) not to ask, "Does anyone have any questions?" Instead, I ask, "Does anyone not know what to do?" This small shift has helped a lot with stemming unnecessary questions.

    Also, I repeat over and over, "It's in the directions," and "We talked about that, ask a classmate," unless the question is legitimate and then of course I answer it. They're pretty used to me saying it now.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. jakecrew
Total: 282 (members: 2, guests: 262, robots: 18)
test