The Power of Questioning to Manage Behaviour

Behaviour Management Through QuestioningBehaviour management through questioning really makes a difference.

You are teaching a lesson. Some kids are calling out and you try to ignore them. You progress the lesson and ask the kids a question to move the lesson along.

Did you realise that your next step will have a huge impact on their behaviour choices?


Behaviour Management through Questioning


How you respond next is the key to how effective this teaching strategy becomes to improve classroom behaviour.

What some teachers do next can actually discourage future participation.

Behaviour Management through Questioning seems a simple procedure but many teachers get this part wrong.

You have competing forces in the classroom.

You have the kids who are participating appropriately by raising their hand properly and those who just want your attention even if it has nothing to do with the lesson.

Most teachers see this as a simple choice and call on kids without giving this teaching process much thought. It just seems to be an automatic response.

In fact, it should not be.

This questioning - answering process is basic to the teaching - learning process. Ever since Socrates taught Plato, (or was it the other way around), the teaching strategy using the questioning - answering process has been fundamental to our education system - as it should be.

Questioning - Answering is a great technique to encourage participation in the lesson and improve classroom behaviour.

Generally behaviour management through questioning works quite well.

It is simply a shame that sometimes the teacher's selection process can discourage rather than encourage participation.

If you use this questioning - answering strategy, as you should, you need to inform the class how it must operate early in the day of your relief teaching gig and/or early in the year if it is your full time class.

How to Use Behaviour Management through Questioning

You really want to eliminate the disruptive "look at me" behaviours that often follow.

You also want to make sure that every student feels that proper participation in this teaching strategy is worthwhile for them.

Let's look at some key elements to how you can achieve behaviour management through questioning in your classroom.

1. Behaviour Management through Questioning Take time to Pause.

Teachers are classic at moving too fast. You clearly have an idea what type of response you would like because you have had time to decode the question and think about the answer.

However, the kids in your class have not had the advantage of this time. You essentially hit them over the head with a question.

So expecting an immediate response is not fair.

Give them time to think.

Here is what is happening in your classroom.

  • 20% of the kids will have the answer you want. Their hands will shoot up because they want to be your first responders.
  • 20% of the kids will have an answer but it will be the first thing that pops into their head because they have not unpacked the question yet. Their hands will shoot up but they will still be thinking about the question. Ask them too early and you could get their first answer which may be rubbish.
  • 20% of the kids won't have an answer yet and will be unpacking the question in an attempt to come up with their answer. When they have worked it out, they will put their hands up in time. However, most of the time the teacher will have already asked someone else
  • 20% will be even slower at unpacking the question and are looking for some hint or clue before they are even able to formulate an answer. These will often be your second responders if your first student selection doesn't have the answer quite correct.
  • 20% are formulating a smart alec response to elicit giggling and snickering in your class to cause a distraction.

This pause is a significant teaching strategy and often underused.

Pausing allows kids to catch up to you and often reduces to stress in the room.

Having kids blurting out answers can be the consequence of the teacher rushing for answers.

In time, if kids know you will allow them time, you will often receive more considered responses.

Pausing will often allow you to see the dynamics in the room.

If you rush you may miss little Johnny who is getting whispered help from his neighbour so he can participate in your lesson.

Or perhaps you may miss little Jenny who is writing down some notes in an effort to work out her response.

Perhaps Billy is quickly looking over the lesson notes to help him with his answer while Judy is sneaking a peek in the text-book to find out what a term you mentioned really means.

You might even notice Bob who looks like he has no idea and will need your individual attention later on to help him understand the concept.

You might even see Henry silently verbalising and rehearsing his answer.

Pausing during questioning is a very important teaching strategy. This strategy impacts on behaviour management in your classroom.

It should be used often.

You have time to consider the context of this situation before applying it to your classroom.

Now it is time to give your class the same chance.

2. Behaviour Management through Questioning Show you care.

Eye contact is significantly important teaching strategy but it is often not taken seriously.

Try to make eye contact with students often. Scanning and making eye contact directly with students show them you notice them.

Can I make a personal plea to ensure you don't only make eye contact with the good looking kids?

Research clearly shows a direct link between teacher attention and good looking students. The poor homely looking kids value from your attention too.

The kids need to know that the selection process you use is fair and considered. Your choice needs to be seen as purposeful.

Making eye contact lets a student know they WERE considered even if they were not chosen.

There is an unmistakable connectedness that only eye contact creates.

Follow this up with a non verbal like a wink, a smile, a nod and that one student has been won over.

And if that doesn't work - try the KILLER TWO PRONGED APPROACH..

Even little kids understand that not everyone can be selected. But the eye contact gives them a tacit understanding that they are acknowledged as important.

3. Behaviour Management through Questioning Select the rule followers.

It's really tough for the rule-followers when the rule-breakers get special rewards.

Don't reward the turkeys otherwise you will be reinforcing the very behaviour you want to stop.

To create an environment where kids can learn and you can teach, you need kids to participate appropriately.

Never give credence to any student displays disruptive behaviours.

Unless students are quiet and sitting down in their seats you should not will not even entertain the thought of responding to them. Some teachers will call upon them just to keep the peace.

Responding to them rewards their behaviour and you will be certain to see it again.

Make a point of noticing them but ensure they know you have NOT selected them because of their behaviour.

This, strategy AND MORE can be found in this book.


Read about behaviour management through questioning and many more strategies.

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