Editor’s Note: In case you missed it, each Friday in July we’re bringing you the flip side of an annoying or unpleasant part of our jobs. Last week Sarah convinced you that you DO like recess duty! Today we tackle another topic: the question that makes you want to flip your lid.
It was nearing the end of the year. My patience was running thin, as student excitement for summer vacation was building. While working on a collage, a fourth grader came up to me and very seriously asked, “Mrs. Heyn, where are the scissors?” It was all I could do to keep my cool. Where were the scissors? WHERE WERE THE SCISSORS!? Were they not in the same spot they had been since kindergarten? Were they not sitting literally inches away from this student in a blue supply bin? Had I not just taken them out of said supply bin when I had done my demonstration three minutes beforehand? And wait, why was this kid up out of his seat?
These types of questions seem never ending in the art room. “Where are the scissors?” “Where are the glue sticks?” “My pencil broke, what should I do?” “I don’t have a chair…”
Sometimes, I get truly annoyed at these questions. Because of this, I used to just respond snappily, “In the blue bins.” “Sharpen it.” “There’s a chair over here for you.” But then I realized, by giving them the answers, I wasn’t helping my students think for themselves.
So, now, when I get these types of questions, (after taking a deep breath, of course), I turn the questions back on the student. “Hmm…” I say, “Where are the scissors?” This is usually enough to get them thinking. Inevitably, someone will look confused, “Umm… I don’t know, that’s why I just asked you…” In that case, I might have to use another prompt, “Well, where have you found the scissors before? If you don’t know, can you ask a friend to help you?”
When looked at as an opportunity for growth instead of an annoyance, a simple student question can become an enjoyable part of your day. Inevitably, once you’ve helped one group of students practice these higher order thinking skills, another group will come in and you’ll have to start all over again. But isn’t that a great part of our job? There are always new minds to help shape.
Breathe. You DO like answering the same question for the 100th time.
How do YOU feel when students keep asking the same questions over and over?
What are your coping skills? Have you ever just exploded?