Sunday, 6 April 2008

Getting to know you and getting personal questions!

At this time of the year we have new students and new classes. Usually, we try to find out about our students and in the course of this we discover that some of the questions we ask them are perhaps avoided and some of the questions we are asked by them may seem overtly personal or irrelevant. Why is this so? Well, we are all unique and what fascinates one person may not be the least bit interesting to others. Some people filter life through what is happening to other people and others perceive life through facts, information and things that may have little to do with personal aspects.

Some experts say that teachers should reveal little about themselves, especially in the first term, to ensure the distance between students and teacher but that may impede the development of rapport with a class that responds well to exchanges of personal information. In other situations, teachers may be reticent to talk about themselves to groups that may use this information in not so positive ways in the future.

I always bear in mind that I can reveal what I like about myself and that if a group wants more ‘personal’ information, I can choose what to give them. If I open up the lesson to free questioning, I have to be prepared to get any questions and know which I am willing to answer and which I will pass on. Being clear in my own mind beforehand avoids any sense of me appearing on the defensive if I get asked anything I don’t choose to answer.

I also personally make it a rule never to ask anything in public I wouldn’t be prepared to answer and to be attentive to body language when asking things in public. You can usually see very quickly if someone is comfortable with a topic and if they are not, it is time to pull it back to something more general or to change the subject.

What do you do?


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