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September 23, 2013 by Mrs Hurley   

Over the past couple of weeks in particular, I have noticed the absolute time-wasting questions I am asked throughout the day. These usually happen after I have explained an activity but can be asked at any stage during the day. Here are just a couple of examples;

  • Which book do I stick it in?
  • The question says I have to write sentences/rearrange/do something extra – do I have to do it?
  • How long until lunch time?
  • Are we going to play a Maths game today?
  • I can’t find my pen/scissors/pencil case (OK, so this is not a question but the way it is said like it’s MY responsibility to immediately click my fingers and make these items appear is something I get A LOT!)

I don’t want to spend my precious teaching time solving minor issues – I (try to) strongly encourage independence and I want my students to be the problem solvers, not me!

I am so sick of my own name being said in a whiny voice. And I am trying my damn hardest to ignore/re-direct these questions but the kids just don’t seem to be getting the hint. I know I’m probably not handling it in the best way but what else can I do?

Have you had these issues in your classroom before? How did you encourage independence and “thinking for yourself” without coming off as careless? Do you think these habits are formed at home because the kids are so used to parents doing everything for them? How do you then get them to “do it for themselves” at school (and hopefully continue to do so in their everyday lives?)


  1. Mark O'Meara says:

    This is certainly not intended as criticism of you, but I find that my students throw up a lot more of these when my classes are less rewarding and less interesting, which they have been this year. I’ve changed setting and it’s harder to create momentum now and those amazing moments of transformation. And so I’ve noticed a lot more of these minor time-wasting behaviours. I just try to manage it by dealing with things in the shortest possible time, but I’d really like to get back to doing exciting and interesting learning and take care of the issue this way.

    Hope your experience has been different than mine.

    • Miss Fraser says:

      Hi Mark,
      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
      I completely agree – I believe that a possible cause of time wasting questions could be lack of student engagement and motivation. Without making excuses for myself, I think this year is one of the hardest I have taught (in my short three years) because of the HUGE variety of needs of all 47 of my students. That being said, they seem to engage well when undertaking ‘familiar’ activities. I held off introducing English Rotations because of personal pedagogical beliefs but, after bringing them in in Term 3, they absolutely love the structure. Also, I put my own little twist on them – they’re kind of like the Daily 5 program except shorter and I tell the levelled groups what to do when.
      I’m the same as you, I’d love to get into new, exciting and interesting learning but it’s kind of like a vicious cycle – without the basic skills, I can’t throw them into the deep end but teaching the basic skills is boring and therefore we end up with stupid questions.
      Let me know if you can think of any other solutions! 🙂

  2. Margo says:

    Katelyn, I have found that asking the same question back to the student (or a simple what do you think) often works. If they try the I don’t know – I follow up with … Let me know when you do. Works every time …. almost. At least puts the onus to find an answer on them.

    • Miss Fraser says:

      Ooooh, I like the follow-up “let me know when you do”! I think I’ll give that one a try, thanks Margo. I quite often ask the question back to them or a “what do you think/what do the instructions say” but there’s only so many times you can do it before banging your head against the closest table/wall/door!
      Anyway, will keep trying!

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