"Why do we have to learn this?" And it's a pretty good question!
Senior researcher, CILS
Center for Learning and Teaching, the Exploratorium
San Francisco, California
"Why?" (because humans really do want to learn), and "Can I go to the bathroom?" (because humans have such a short attention span that they cannot make it through forty-five minutes of teaching without getting up and having some diversion). Therein lies the dichotomy and challenge of teaching.
All Saints Catholic Academy
"How do you do this?" I follow that question by throwing it back to them and asking them to ask someone in their group who understands the directions. This way, students can feel successful by teaching others.
Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor Elementary School
Bay Harbor Islands, Florida
"When am I ever going to need this in real life?" It is a very relevant question. The trick is to make every topic covered be relevant to each student in the classroom in some capacity. Then the students will recognize its validity for their future.
Junior high school teacher
Center for Educational Excellence
Most frequently asked question: "Can I go to the bathroom?"
Most frequently heard response: "I don't know? Can you?"
Next most frequently asked question: "May I go to the bathroom?"
Next most frequently heard response: "Yes, you may."
Kirk Road School
Greece, New York
"Will this be on the test?" We cringe. If we say no, a room full of brains shuts down. But if we say yes every time, we become the Teacher Who Cried Test. "Why can't you be motivated by the love of learning?" we moan, as we carefully organize them into a childhood structured around passing tests. The real question is why we can't motivate them to love learning. That one will be on the test.
Instructional media and computing labs
Montana State University
"Does this count?" My answer: "Yes. Everything counts. Always. Otherwise, we're wasting our time."
Director of curriculum and instruction
The Chinquapin School
"What are we doing today?" A large number of middle school students ask this question every day, despite having the day's agenda written on the whiteboard and the weekly calendar printed and handed out on Mondays. What they are really asking is, "Can I connect with you again today?" and "Please focus on me, because I want some one-on-one time with you." Never underestimate the power of a friendly teacher smile, a listening ear, and a word or two with these students!