Here is an old bit of teacher advice. Instead of asking “Do you have any questions?” we should ask “What are your questions?” The idea is to normalize asking questions for students. I try to take this further and explicitly teach about self-advocacy.
If a student is confused in class but doesn’t ask a question, they’ll fall behind. Rasing your hand is a great start but a self advocate does more than raise their hand.
Here is the example that I use in class:
Imagine you don’t understand something in math class. If you were the world’s best self-advocate, what do you do? We generate many answers. For every answer my students give, their character doesn’t yet understand the answer.
|A possible way to get the answer||My response|
|Raise your hand||The teacher doesn’t answer your question or tells you to ask later. What else can you do?”|
|Ask a student||They aren’t able to help you understand|
|Raise hand again or ask another student||Great idea! But it doesn’t work again. What do you try next?|
|Reread your notes or handouts||Great idea! But it doesn’t work. What do you try next?|
|See the teacher after class||Great idea! But it doesn’t work. What do you try next?|
|Ask your parents||Great idea! But it doesn’t work. What do you try next?|
|Email your teacher||Great idea! But it doesn’t work. What do you try next?|
|See the teacher before school||Great idea! But it doesn’t work. What do you try next?|
|Ask a different teacher||Great idea!|
|Search websites||You probably need to click into websites and read a little bit to find the answer. Google cannot read your mind.|
|Find a video on YouTube||This will probably work if you search the right terms|
They are always surprised by how many options we can come up with. The point is that there are many actions we can take so that we get the help that we need.
Self-advocates do not give up so easily. Neither should any of our students.