After hearing Simon Sinek describe the importance of asking why and not what, I started to think about questioning. “Questioning” has been a buzzword around my school for the past year or so, and I have seen first-hand how asking good questions- essential questions- has made a difference in my classroom. As teachers and leaders, we are constantly asking questions. What questions should teachers ask their students? What questions should leaders ask their followers? And perhaps most importantly, what questions should teachers and leaders ask themselves? Successful leaders ask good questions.
If you think about it, thinking is driven by questioning. If no one asked questions, conversation would not occur, problems would not arise, ideas would not be shared, and people would generally be less connected. As instructional leaders, we are constantly seeking to improve our practice. More often than not, answers provide some sort of end to a means, but leaders who ask good questions are ultimately striving to continue on their journey to empower others.
So what do good questions look like? How can leaders ensure they are asking those essential questions? Grant Wiggins and Denise Wilbur suggest that good questions meet the following criteria:
- They stimulate ongoing thinking and inquiry.
- They’re arguable, with multiple plausible answers.
- They raise further questions.
- They spark discussion and debate.
- They demand evidence and reasoning because varying answers exist.
- They point to big ideas and pressing issues.
- They fruitfully recur throughout the unit or year.
- The answers proposed are tentative and may change in light of new experiences and deepening understanding (McTighe & Wiggins, 2013).
Asking good questions takes a lot of creativity and thinking, but it pays off in the end. Leaders who ask their teams how to solve a problem, who ask the essential questions to foster communication and a sense of value for all team members, are the most successful of all.
Linkner, J. (2013, September) The 13 Questions Great Leaders Ask Their Teams. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshlinkner/2013/09/05/the-13-questions-great-leaders-ask-their-teams/
The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking, and Learning. (2000) Retrieved from http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/the-role-of-questions-in-teaching-thinking-and-learning/524
Wiggins, G. & Wilbur, A. (2015). How to Make Your Questions Essential. Educational Leadership, Volume 73 (Issue 1), pp.10- 15.