I don't know about you [wlm_firstname], but one of my biggest challenges when I teach is getting accurate feedback that I'm being understood.
Teaching with power has me off the bike a lot more than I had in the past - which was almost never. Now, multiple times during class, I'll explain a new Stage and get them started on the effort. Then I'll hop off and begin working my way through the room, asking students directly; "does this make sense?" or "are you following me?"
Dumb questions as it turns out... the answer was always "yes"... did I really think someone would say "no"?
Once I realized what I was asking dumb questions, which resulted in worthless responses, I was a bit ashamed of myself. As a 30 year sales guy I know better than to ask on question that can be easily answered "yes" or "no" when I'm trying to get an understanding of what a potential customer is thinking. These easily answered questions don't offer any context. Context that would come from a more detailed answer, that reflects a true understanding of the concept I'm trying to communicate... an echo of what I said.
In a previous post I talked about asking proper questions. I was trying to help future instructors understand the proper question isn't "where do I get certified?" but rather; "how do I get a scheduled class at a local studio?"
Once I recognize my error, I changed the questions slightly by adding what are called "opener words" in a conversation. Essentially these are words added to a sentence that don't allow for simple yes or no answers. They encourage more detailed and satisfying discussions.
My favorites are; Where, When, What and How.
- Where is your heart rate? I'm at one 153
- When will you be recovering? It looks like we have 1 min. and 30 seconds left.
- What zone are you in? I'm at the top of zone three.
- How much longer is this effort? I think I missed that... how much longer do we have?
Notice how each response reflects an understanding of my description of the effort or, If the student is unclear, it causes them to respond with a question. Either way we're communicating.
Asking the right questions also had an unintended result. Knowing I was expecting a more detailed answer than "yes John" appeared to have the effect that everyone pays more attention to my directions - which is similar to what I remember teachers doing in school 🙂
- Where else could you implement asking proper questions?
- When would you feel they would fit best in your class?
- What could you do to remind yourself?
- How many times would you try this in a normal length class?
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