You are on page 1of 15

Skill Review Sheet – Questioning

Graduate Standards - AITSL
Professional Practice: 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 5.2 Plan and implement effective teaching and
learning
Please complete all forms and include in your ePortfolio

Question Type
Do you feel your
questions were clearly
structured and readily
understood by the
students?

I will preface this discussion by noting that I posed many
verbal and written questions in my lessons. Before my first
lesson, I dedicated a lot of time into structuring readily
understandable questions, but I discovered that my written
questions were too complex for my class of year nine
students. I became aware of the complexity as students
asked me to clarify the same points, so I rephrased them as
the lesson progressed to clarify these areas of confusion. I
had the foresight to rewrite a particularly difficult question on
the board, avoiding the terms that had initially confounded
the majority of the class. In other words, my verbal
questioning skills were of a higher standard than those of my
written in my first lesson, although I was able to recognise,
reflect on and then change them to encourage
comprehension.
In my other classes, I was aware of how my questioning
could enhance or detract from student learning and focused
on combining a range of question types to engage and
sustain attention. I made sure to structure my questions to
suit the purpose of the discussion, exercise or activity. I tried
to avoid closed questions, but found that beginning with
simple convergent questions helped ease students into the
discussion at the beginning of class. Sometimes it confirmed
their understanding and prepared them for the following
questions. By my final lesson, I had understood how to
structure my questions productively. In other words, I
formulated my questions in a way that encouraged creative,
thoughtful and reflective responses.
I also learned that, even when my questions were effectively
structured and comprehensible for the majority of the class,
there would often be one student who asked questions
anyway.

Did you use a variety of
question types?

I utilised a range of question types throughout my
professional experience, but this did not come easy to me. In
my first lesson, my questioning skills were limited. While it
was my intention to ease students into the lesson, there were
too many components to my questions. I became aware of
the complexity of these questions at the time and broke them
down. Whilst this had the desired effect, I realised that the
students needed time to process my questions and their
thoughts. The majority of questions were high order. I needed
variety and I needed to ascertain when to use a particular
question type.
After my first lesson, my mentor suggested that I adopt a
hierarchical mindset when communicating with students.
Acting upon this advice, I tried to begin my following lessons
with straightforward convergent questions before advancing
to divergent and evaluative types. In the earlier stages of the
lesson, I would pose straightforward questions that served
the purpose of refreshing students’ memories on a particular
concept. I did not want to focus too much on low-level
cognitive questions that relied on memorisation or recall of
information, but they were useful precursors to the rest of my
lesson. I then progressed to affective questions. For
example, after reading a particular passage from a chapter, I
would follow with the question: what was your initial response
to this passage? Essentially, I asked a question to elicit
expressions of personal attitudes and feelings.
Other questions required students to think critically and delve
into various possibilities, but I did not ask these questions
until we had covered the basics and processed their
thoughts. Generally, my question types depended on my
purpose. What was I seeking from my students? Where was I
heading with my questions? This related to my learning
objectives and expectations for the entire lesson. There was
no point asking a question that would not garner relevant
responses. Overall, I realised that there are some questions
that I used to keep the classroom operations moving forward.
Closed questions were sometimes helpful for recalling
information and checking retention of facts. Rhetorical
questions, with the appropriate tone and waiting time, were
useful in emphasising or reinforcing a particular idea. My
open divergent and evaluative questions, on the other hand,
promoted discussion and fostered deeper thinking and, by
extension, student understanding.

Establishing well-crafted questions was one thing, but finding
What balances was there the balance between question types was a challenge.
between the various
Overall, I believe that I used a variety of question types in

questions types?

every lesson, but still need to fine tune my questioning skills
so that I know when it is appropriate to include different levels
of questions. It is only in retrospect that I see where I could
have done things differently.
After my first class with the year nine students where I
focused on complex question types too early in the lesson, I
employed a range of question types with my year seven
class. I asked them factual, convergent, divergent, evaluative
and a combination of these questions throughout the lesson.
For example, I would begin by asking students about the
components of a picture book. This question elicited
reasonably straightforward responses based on facts they
had previously discussed. Then I progressed to questions
that required them to make inferences based on the
evidence. Whilst I tried to find the balance, after my initial line
of questioning, I think that I focused more on convergent and
evaluative question types. However, unlike my year nine
class, I used these question types at an appropriate time for
the Academic Excellence group. In other words, not only
were the year seven students’ responses sophisticated,
demonstrating to me that they grasped what I was asking
and that I had stimulated some deep thinking, but my timing
was right. Those initial questions that eased them into the
lesson set them up for the questions that provoked deeper
thought.
I think that in order to find the balance between the various
question types, I needed to gauge the capabilities of my
students. In my year seven group, I understood that my initial
line of questioning would prepare them for the higher order
types. This was a far cry from my year nine class, where I
focused on convergent and evaluative questions too much
and too soon, thus needing to constantly clarify and simplify
these questions. I think it is important to remember that, even
with a pre-prepared list of questions, I did not need to rigidly
follow these. Sometimes the students’ responses would
influence the questions I would ask. Questioning is also
about communication and interaction with the students
therefore, provided that I kept the discussion moving in the
right direction, it is fine to adjust the questions types
according to the situation.

Consider both why and
when you made use of
the different question
types?

I asked closed questions and straightforward convergent
questions when I desired focused answers. These low-order
question types were helpful at the beginning of my lessons
when I wanted to briefly obtain students’ current
understandings of specific pieces of information. For
example, in my third lesson (year 9 students) where I

focused on the concept of Sameness in a young adult novel,
I asked: what is Jonas’ new role? All I wanted from them at
that moment was for them to tell me that the character,
Jonas, was the new Receiver of Memory. I also asked them:
what is Sameness? Essentially, all they had to do was recall
some facts. This demonstrated to me that they had retained
information from the previous lesson and chapter, and I also
knew that it would prepare them for the following discussion
where we looked at the implications of both Jonas’ role and
Sameness.
As we progressed throughout the lesson, I wanted students
to make connections between the concept of Sameness and
(insidious) control. In order to help them understand, I
discussed the adage ‘ignorance is bliss’. Before applying it to
the novel, I asked students: can you think of examples of
‘ignorance is bliss’ in your own life? (supplementing this with,
and what are some examples?). This question was helpful in
making the adage relatable. Once they understood what
ignorance is bliss was and how not knowing something is
both advantageous and problematic, I could move on to
higher order questions. I used evaluative questions at
different stages throughout this lesson. The ‘ignorance is
bliss’ adage was an example. Another question was: is it
every good not knowing something? I found that I often tried
to pose questions that sought students’ personal opinions.
This was not appropriate in every situation. After close
observation of my mentor’s interaction with her students,
however, I noticed that her lesson became relatable and
readily understandable when she connected the topic to their
own lives. This is why I sprinkled evaluative questions
throughout this lesson; to keep the subject relevant and
relatable.
In the activity I designed for my year nine students, one of
the questions was: In Chapter 12, the Giver reveals that
Sameness did not always exist. The Community chose it.
Why is Jonas unsettled by this revelation? This kind of
question is of the divergent type because students were
required to explore the possible reasons why Jonas might be
unsettled. I asked this question because I knew that it would
garner a variety of responses. There were other similar
interpretive questions like this aimed at drawing students into
the text and encouraging them to explore the possibilities. In
the middle to later stages of the lesson, I wanted students to
think critically. The questions were not necessarily worded in
a complex manner, but they required thoughtful responses.
Essentially, all of these questioning types relates to my
mentor’s suggestion that I approach the lesson in a

hierarchical manner. This did not mean that I had to follow a
strict, low-medium-high order structure, but meant that I
needed to be aware of how I balanced my questioning types.
It was logical to begin with straightforward questions, but I
found that the combination of question types in the later
stages of the class was effective in keeping students
engaged.

Distributing and Directing Questions
Did you recognise any
pattern in the distribution
of your questions
amongst the students?
Consider reasons for this
pattern?

In my third lesson (year nine students), I did not find any
distinct patterns in my distribution of questions. As I taught
four full-length lessons, I found that I addressed the whole
class. I was becoming familiar with names, but I rarely
singled out students. I would sometimes walk to the different
groups to direct my question to them, and somebody from
the group would respond. I tried to keep it fair. I did find that
there was a select group of students who eagerly raised their
hands. I always allowed them to answer, but I did not only
address them when posing a question. Sometimes the quiet
or seemingly disinterested students would chime in, so by
walking around and scanning the whole room, I tried to
involve everybody.
The only pattern I recognised was how I structured my
questions for the whole lesson. I tended to address the
whole class in the beginning, a whole-class discussion would
ensure, then I would take them through some concepts and
pose questions of varying complexity as I went. At around
the halfway mark, I would distribute written questions for
them to respond to in their exercise books. At this stage I
would walk around to individuals and groups to answer
further questions or pose additional ones to help them
unpack what was in front of them.

How have you directed
questions to the group?

As mentioned, although I was beginning to learn the
students’ names, I rarely singled out students to answer
questions unless they raised their hands. There were
occasions where I followed my mentor’s lead and selected a
student to answer a question. I was not confident with this
approach initially, but realised that it was appropriate when
posing straightforward questions. For example, in my year
seven class, I recall asking a girl for an example of figurative
language in the text we were reading. As there were a range
of answers, I did not feel that I was putting pressure on her.
(I realise that some teachers keep students on their toes by
randomly selecting students to respond to questions, but I
am not comfortable with this yet.)

When students were working in their groups or on their
activities, I walked around the room to monitor their
progress.
I would generally initiate conversation by asking how they
were finding the questions or if anything was unclear. Some
students asked for further clarification. At this stage, I also
actively listened to their discussions about the questions. If I
noticed them struggling, I would either reword the question
for them or perhaps pose a different one that might help
them. Occasionally, when I was walking around to these
groups, I posed broad questions that could aid or redirect
their thinking. If they were answering a question about how
the truth hurts in relation to the novel they were studying, I
would remind them of a scene in the novel. Rather than
providing the answer, I said things such as: when Jonas
received memories of snow, he felt happiness for the first
time, but there were painful memories as well. What are
some examples of Jonas’ pain? How is his pain
represented?
I often had my focus questions displayed on my PowerPoint
slides so I could read aloud and unpack them with my
students.
Have you used “wait”
time?

Wait time is a strategy that goes hand in hand with other
communication skills such as: paraphrasing, clarifying and
active listening. From my second class, I employed this
technique. In my first class with the year nine’s, my vocal
pace was too quick, I asked complex questions too soon,
and I asked too many questions at once. I believe I was
more focused on asking the questions than actually ensuring
that students understood the questions.
In my following classes, however, I used wait time.
Sometimes wait time was useful when I was posing a
rhetorical question. Other times, wait time was effective
because my pause provided students with time to gather
their thoughts and process my requirements. Importantly,
wait time gave students a break from my voice. I found wait
time particularly effective when I was teaching my second
lesson (year seven students) about the importance of
context when analysing picture books. I had different images
(photographs and paintings) displayed on my PowerPoint
that connected to the picture book we were reading. I posed
a question to the students and paused for about three
seconds so that they could absorb my words as well as the
image before them. Essentially, wait time allowed them to
think through my question and connect the dots. It was after

those few seconds that a cluster of hands shot into the air.
I believe that the length of time I would allow to elapse
between my questions, or between my question and student
responses, was dependent on the complexity of the
question. For example, for lower cognitive questions, short
wait times were suitable. Three seconds was a good starting
point, although I had to gauge an appropriate time based on
student engagement. For higher order questions, waiting for
a longer period of time (within reason) was necessary. Wait
time meant that there were fewer vacant stares and ‘I don’t
know’ responses, because students were granted time to
think and process the information.
In the first class I observed with a relief teacher (8/2), I
witnessed the teacher select a student, ask her a question,
provide no wait time and then exclaim ‘too slow!’ when the
girl stumbled over her words and failed to articulate anything
coherent. What alarmed me about this situation was that,
only five minutes before, I had walked around to the
student’s group and posed the same question. They had a
solid grasp of the question and had recorded their answers
in their books. However, as the teacher had not given the
student any time (with the addition of an insult that shocked
myself and the student) it appeared that the student did not
know the answer. This was an example of how failing to
provide wait time hindered a student’s academic
performance. In the student’s case, she did know the
answer. In other cases, the student simply would not have
enough time to think.
Did you make eye
contact with the group as
you directed your
questions?

I used eye contact from the beginning. I think that there were
occasions, particularly in my first lesson, where I directed my
questions into the air, but I learned fairly quickly that I was
not going to elicit any responses if I was impersonal. I began
to scan the faces and locked eyes with certain students as I
directed a question at them. When I walked around the room
as students completed their work, I asked them questions
directly, making eye contact as I did so.
I think that it was easier making eye contact with the year
seven students. I taught the Academic Excellence class
twice. They were not quite as intimidating as the year nine
students, but the year seven class was twice as eager to
learn. However, eye contact with the year nine students was
equally important, especially as they were not as motivated
as their younger counterparts. I found that eye contact
encouraged students to respond. They knew I was
addressing them, that I was aware of what they were doing

and were more alert as a result. I also made eye contact as
they put up their hands. I would ask their name, let them
respond and focus my attention onto them. I can imagine it
would be distracting if my gaze wondered. The last thing I
would want to convey is disinterest or disrespect, especially
when I am asking for this in return.
I do not necessarily believe that eyes are the windows to the
soul, but in a similar vein, I feel that eyes can give a lot away.
As I provided eye contact, I could discern in students’ eyes
their level of knowing and comprehension. Some eyes were
alive and engaged, whereas others were vacant or bored. I
think that eye contact is essential because it encourages
students to pay attention. They can become distracted by
their books, the slides, the person next to them, the window
or even the blank space before them; therefore, by enforcing
eye contact myself, I tried to keep them focused. It is another
strategy of communication.
On a final note, it was not until my final lesson (year seven
students) that I recognised an additional benefit of eye
contact. It could be used for discipline. In this sense, eye
contact is a low key strategy for maintaining order in the
classroom. For example, with one particularly difficult
student, using my voice was not always effective. Without
realising what I was doing, sometimes I would lock eyes with
him when he was misbehaving. Through my eyes alone I
conveyed to him that he was in the wrong. He would look
sheepish and return to his work. In this sense, eye contact
connected to the look that I gave when students were out of
line (it went hand in hand with the raised eyebrow and slight
shaking of my head). I understand that teachers must be
wary of overdoing the look lest they become a caricature, but
I think that it is important that we do not underestimate the
power of eye contact to let students know that we are alert
and engaged. The upshot is that, because they see our
awareness, they too will become alert, thus more likely to
participate in the lesson.
Reactions to Student’s Responses
How do you deal with
correct responses? Do
you qualify any praise
given?

In the first lesson, I admit that my reactions to correct
responses were short and sweet, but completely inadequate.
‘Good job,’ was the repeated phrase. ‘Nice idea…excellent…
I like your thinking’. I praised them, but I was not providing a
reason why or giving them the recognition they deserved. At
this stage, I believe that I was not actively listening to their
responses either, but expecting certain answers. It was only
after I had discussed my lesson with my mentor that I

became aware of these mediocre, vague and simplistic
attempts at praise.
In the following lesson (year seven students), my vocabulary
broadened. Rather than just providing a brief nod, smile or a
single word of acknowledgement, I would congratulate
students on their ideas and often repeat it back to them. For
example, I responded to them with: excellent idea, name. So
what you’re saying is that the use of verse adds a musical
and poetic quality to the text. Sometimes I would ask
students to repeat their response so that the rest of the class
could hear, or I would repeat/rephrase it in a way that
captured their intended meaning and relate it to the question
or topic. At the same time, I would smile and nod to further
acknowledge their invaluable contribution.
Some students astounded me with their grasp of particular
concepts and I did not hide my amazement. I was learning
that praise was an effective tool to motivate students to
continue thinking critically. In this classroom, my cheerful
disposition and constant praises encouraged students to
keep working. Throughout the lesson I also found myself
announcing that I was impressed with their progress
because they were demonstrating to me that they were
addressing the learning objectives and expectations I had
set out for them. I was praising their specific efforts,
accomplishments and behaviour. Additionally, there was
something so rewarding about seeing a student smile when I
praised them. As I remembered their names, this praise
became more meaningful.
I found that in this lesson I was praising students in front of
the class and privately as they worked independently on their
activities. What I had learned from the first lesson was that I
needed to qualify my praises to guide student achievement.
Also, being specific was crucial. General praise was effective
for the classroom, but specifically identifying what I was
praising provided the individual student with positive and
productive feedback.
[A note for the future: while my year seven students relished
the praise in front of the classroom, I need to be aware that
with the older students, public praise might be embarrassing
for them. I remember what it was like in high school to
receive praise in front of the class, only to have students roll
their eyes at the studious kid. Therefore, private praise may
be more effective for older students, but it will always be
dependent on the specific situation.]

How do you deal with
incorrect
responses?
How do you deal with
students who stumble
and grope for an answer?

This was one area that I felt I grasped from the start and
probably stems from my personal experiences in high school
when I got the answer wrong. When I was in high school,
there were teachers who simply said ‘Nope!’ when I provided
the incorrect answer. In my lesson, I ensured that I steered
clear of this. This is not to say that I misled the student into
thinking that they were right when they were not. Rather, I
tried to provide more productive feedback (that did not crush
their self-esteem in the process).
In my final lesson (year seven AE class), I found that there
were some students who provided incorrect, random or
partially correct answers. I would often remark that they were
on the right track, or I saw how they might have come to that,
but then asked them to elaborate. Often, I asked the class if
they could expand on the point. At times, when the student
was absolutely wrong (which was a rarity in the class) or
simply misunderstood a question, I re-read/rephrased the
question so that they could see where they made a mistake.
In one exercise where students were required to describe
what was happening in a small extract, one boy completely
deviated from the task and created a scenario that had no
connection to his extract. I read over his extract and question
and reminded him that he must use evidence to support his
description. He argued that he was using evidence, but I
explained to him that he was confusing evidence with
assumptions. While this boy was not as confused as he
made out (he was trying to be ‘smart’), I used this
opportunity to address the whole class. I referred back to the
question and explained to them that they could write what
they wanted provided that they used the evidence from the
text in front of them to support their descriptions. After
returning to the boy, I noticed that he had listened to my
advice. His description now reflected my instructions. He was
still trying to be cheeky, but I knew that he had grasped what
I had asked of him.
There were a couple of occasions where students stumbled
over their responses. This was surprisingly complicated
because I did not want to interrupt or cut them off. When
they were noticeably struggling, however, I did not want to
leave them floundering. As mentioned, I had already
witnessed a relief teacher exclaim ‘too slow!’, so I intended
to approach these students more graciously.
One girl in this class lost her train of thought and began
‘umming’ and ‘ahhhing’. I saw where she was going,
however, and said something along the lines of: if you don’t
mind me interjecting, what you’re saying is…? Or are you

trying to say this? Another student completely forgot what
they were saying, so I asked them an alternative question. I
found that acknowledging what students were saying and
then getting somebody else to elaborate was effective as
well. This way, the student still received recognition for trying
and by asking for an elaboration, I have not dismissed their
point. I think that these scenarios are completely context
dependent. If they are groping for an answer, I must use my
own judgement to assess whether they are able to finish
their response and to determine when and how I interject.

Do you keep eye contact
with the students until
they have completed an
answer?
Do you cut
students off and go onto
the next point before they
have
finished
responding?

I did maintain eye contact with my students whilst they were
responding. Unlike some of the other skills and strategies
that will take me some time to master, from the outset, I
recognised the value of eye contact in my interaction with
students. I knew that if I glanced up at my PowerPoint slides
or if my gaze wondered from them in any way, I would be
showing disrespect. Sometimes it took courage for students
to speak aloud, so by maintaining eye contact they could see
that they had my undivided attention. I wanted to show them
that I valued their responses. Of course, my responses were
part of this, but eye contact is one communication skill that I
took seriously. At the same time, I needed to be aware of
how intense eye contact can be. Whilst I did maintain eye
contact, the occasional swivel of the eyeballs was not an
issue.
There were a couple of occasions where I cut a student off
before they had finished responding. The first occasion was
in my second class of year seven students. I thought the boy
had finished and I began to respond, only to realise that he
had more to say. I immediately said, ‘I’m sorry, go on,’ and he
finished answering my question.
The second occasion, I intentionally cut off a student before
he had finished responding because he was saying
something irrelevant and inappropriate. This was less about
dismissing his opinion and moving onto the next point, and
more about reminding him that he was off topic and needed
redirection. Otherwise, there were no occasions when I
interrupted a student unless they were struggling on a point
and needed prompting or help.

What use do you make of
the student’s responses
to develop the teaching
point?
Have
you

This was an important pearl of wisdom my mentor gave me
after my first lesson. I had not realised that, in the early
stages, I was focused mostly on my own questions and on
seeking particular responses. I forgot that the students’

redirected any questions responses could enhance the classroom’s learning as well. It
in order to add to an was all about the dynamic nature of student-teacher
initial response?
interaction.
On the topic of ‘ignorance is bliss’ in my year nine class,
some boys brought Santa Claus and knowledge of the
human reproductive systems as things that we would rather
not know about. Even though I had not anticipated these
responses, the students’ responses developed my teaching
point. A girl, whom had never spoken a word in class,
provided an example of ignorance is bliss in her own life. ‘If I
was talking about a girl behind her back,” she began, “then it
is better for her if she doesn’t know about it.” Once again, I
had not expected such a response, but all three of these
students furthered the discussion on ignorance is bliss,
which I could then relate to our main discussion of how the
fictional society lived in blissful unawareness of life outside of
Sameness.
In my year seven AE class, I was constantly astounded by
the depth of these students’ understandings. From their
advanced vocabularies to their ability to identify the kinds of
figurative language I was not familiar with until my mid-teens,
I discovered that their responses could develop my own
points. For example, as I provided students with an activity to
analyse a picture book, I expected common responses about
the different elements. ‘What do you think the purpose of the
colours and illustrations are on this page?’ I asked, at one
point, expecting them to discuss how the colour red
represented danger, or how different colours depicted certain
moods. After many anticipated responses, a student
responds: ‘I think that the watercolour technique represents
how bushfires taints the landscape. Just like the watercolour
staining the pages of the book, bushfires taint everything it
touches – landscape, wildlife, communities, families…’ From
a twelve-year old, I was staggered by his thoughtful
response. His observation led to a discussion of symbolism
in the text, which was helpful in our overall discussion of
figurative language devices.
I have redirected questions in order to encourage
elaborations on initial responses. Some students provided
partial answers, so I found it useful to redirect my question
so that other students could elaborate on the initial students’
responses.
Are
you
the
only Generally, I was the only evaluator of a student’s answers;
evaluator of the student’s however, there were occasions where my mentor chimed in
answers?
if a student produced an exceptionally thought-provoking

response. A positive aspect of my lessons was that my
mentor was not just an invisible observer, but occasionally
contributed to the lesson when she thought the students or
myself had said something insightful.
I found that my mentor was more vocal when a certain
student was being disruptive. I am speaking of a particularly
bright year seven boy who always produced unusual and
often inappropriate responses. It is not that he did not know
how to answer the questions, because he was certainly
capable, but that he could not help himself but say or write
something controversial (and often misogynistic). From my
observations, I deduced that he was an attention seeker who
liked to shock his pupils with his outlandish responses. When
he became fixated on certain irrelevant things, and my own
complaints were falling on deaf ears, my mentor would step
in to condemn his behaviour or responses and bring him to
task.
It is also worth mentioning that the students evaluated their
peers’ answers. This was not in any formal way, but because
there was classroom discussion, partner work and group
activities, I found that they fed off each other’s discussions. I
fostered a collaborative classroom environment where
students helped each other. This was generally positive. The
only negative was when a student provided an answer and
another called out: ‘No, it’s not. That’s wrong.’ On these
occasions I would have to remind them that the questions I
was asking usually encouraged a variety of responses. On
the other hand, if the said student did actually answer the
question wrong, I would not be as blunt as the student whom
had cried out. In fact, on occasions where students called
out unnecessary things, I tended to remind them to raise
their hands if they wanted to speak and mind their own
business if something did not concern them.
With reference to the question, I was the main evaluator of
responses, but there were occasions where my mentor and
the students chimed in.
Did you communicate
clearly to the students the
requirements
of
the
lesson?

Before I had taken my first lesson, my mentor suggested that
I begin the class with a set of learning objectives and
expectations. She called them WALT = What am I learning
today? And WILT = What am I (the teacher) looking for? My
mentor explained that if I approach the lesson with these two
questions, I can articulate the requirements of the lesson
clearly and purposefully to my students.
I used PowerPoint slides for all four of my lessons and, in

bullet point form, displayed my WALT and WILT for the
lesson. (This was a simplified version of the learning
objectives included in my lesson plans.) I went through these
points with the students before we began any work. I learned
that there is no point being cryptic with students.
Commencing my lesson with clearly stated objectives and
expectations, as my mentor did, ensured that students knew
exactly what we would be doing (e.g. analysing an extract
from a text), provided purpose and relevance (e.g. to
develop an understanding of how personification contributes
to the mood of the story) and let them know exactly what I
wanted from them (e.g. engagement with text and purposeful
discussions). Often, I would reiterate throughout the class
what we were doing and why to reinforce these points. In
essence, communicating clearly to the students the agenda
for the lesson provided direction and purpose.
At times, I struggled articulating these points as effectively as
I intended. I was aware of a disconnect between what I was
verbalising and what was written on my slides. For example,
sometimes my written WALT and WILT were too wordy and
complex, but I did clarify these points verbally by explaining
to students what every bullet point meant. In a different
lesson, I simplified my WALT and WILT on my slides, but
found myself elaborating on them when my written
descriptions would suffice. Overall, I believe I communicated
clearly to the students the requirements of the lesson, but it
did take practice to find the balance between written and
verbal instructions.
My communication and questioning skills improved throughout my professional
experience. There was never an occasion where I felt flustered or lost for words, but
there were times when I realised that I could have posed or structured some
questions more effectively, I learned that I needed to simplify my questions and
learning objectives in order to clearly articulate to the class what was required of
them. I had to remind myself that I was not in a tertiary setting, but in front of a class
of teenagers. (Some students were as young as twelve.) I was able to clarify and
reword my questions on the spot, and re-write them on the board if necessary. As I
progressed through my lessons, I grew more comfortable with the students. As I
began to develop a rapport with them and started remembering their names, the
conversation flowed more smoothly. My vocal pace was not as fast, my non-verbal
cues indicated that I was enthusiastic and eager to be there, and students felt more
comfortable asking me questions in return.

I thoroughly enjoyed planning and delivering my lessons and would often rise early in
the morning so that I could practise the lesson before school. As I prepared my
lesson, I recorded many questions for my class and possible elaborations, and tried
to anticipate what students would ask me. I discovered that these notes came in
handy, but when I was actually in front of the classroom, I rarely needed to use them.
I recalled that communication is a two-way event – an interactive process – therefore
my questions were often in response to a student’s question/response. Sometimes
the conversation went in an unexpected direction. As long as the questions did not
steer the class off course, I found this interaction one of the most rewarding aspects
of my first professional experience.