Klea Scharberg

Listen to Your Students

Students want to be successful in school. If you take the time to listen to your students, they will tell you what academic supports they need.

"It's about listening to students," writes Allyson E. Kemp in "ELLs: The Grace of Being Heard." Through her experiences as a secondary English language learning facilitator, Kemp was able to recognize individual students' needs, unify the class through self-direction, and nurture the growth of a positive academic identity. Try asking your students the following questions and then reflect on how well the lessons are meeting their needs.

Questions for Students

  • What's your goal for today?
  • What academic work do you need to complete this week?
  • What are your academic priorities?
  • What priorities outside school do you have?
  • How will you manage your time to successfully accomplish your goals and meet deadlines?
  • What resources do you need?
  • If you don't know, whom will you ask?
  • How will you know when something is complete?
  • What did you learn?
  • If you didn't meet your goals—why not?
  • What can you do differently next time?

Questions for Teachers

  • How are the students making sense of the work?
  • Do I notice patterns when students get stuck?
  • Are all students engaged in their work?
  • What resources do the students use outside the classroom?
  • What are the students' plans after high school?
  • What minilessons do I want to teach on the basis of what I'm learning about my students?

"When we plan instruction to meet students where they are," writes Kemp, "students feel empowered—not only because we've listened to them, but also because they see evidence of these conversations in how we teach them."

How do you listen to your students?

Comments (1)


August 4, 2011

I think that it is great to ask students these questions.  I feel that it helps them take ownership of their learning and might possibly motivate some of them to do better.  I think some students are used to going through the motions and don’t think critically about what they are doing or learning.  The questions teachers should ask themselves frequently.  These will also offer a teacher an opportunity to reflect on their instruction.

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