Principal Heidi Fedore, Sept. 2018
Sitting in the dentist’s office several years ago, I read in a parenting magazine that parents should ask five questions before giving advice to their children. The timing was perfect because my ninth grade host daughter had recently moved in with me and I needed all the advice I could get.
A truly great teacher asks questions that inspire deep and critical thinking and parents might appreciate tips from research-based teaching strategies. To be distinguished in our current evaluation system, teachers ask varied questions that challenge students to think critically. These are usually open-ended questions like, “Why do you think so?” and asking another student, “What do you think about his answer?” What elevates a teacher to the distinguished level, especially, is asking students to play a more active role in a discussion or generate questions.
A school example is when math teachers encourage students to lead table discussions and ask students to explain their reasoning and invite other students to contribute. These teachers are operating at the distinguished level when they are using this strategy.
As a parent, you might ask your sixth grader, “Given what you’ve learned so far about Mesopotamia, what questions do you have about this ancient civilization?” Remember, the parenting magazine suggests that we ask another four questions before going into lecture mode, otherwise known as the Charlie Brown wah-wah-wah. Then, a week later, you can bring up those questions and see if they’ve been answered during class, promoting further discussion.
We hope that by earning a distinguished parent rating that you’ll inspire your child to share more with you about what’s happening at school. Another advantage is that you might learn more about Mesopotamia.