If you are into choice theory you have come to recognize how valuable a well-worded question can be. Not all questions are well-worded and lead to quality responses, though.
The Omaha Sun Times recently ran an article entitled, 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids ‘So How Was School Today?’ Without Asking Them ‘So How Was School Today?’ This regularly-asked question garners pretty much the same answer from kids, “Uh, ok.” So what kind of questions might actually get more than an “Uh, ok,” response? Here are some examples from the 25 Ways list –
What was the best thing that happened in school today?
Tell me something that made you laugh today.
If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Not sit by?)
If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
How did you help somebody today?
How did somebody help you today?
When were you the happiest today?
Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?
What do you think you should do more of at school? (Less of?)
Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?
Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today.
These kinds of questions will get more than “Uh, ok” answers and will begin to help us empathize with the lives of our children.
Those taking the Soul Shapers training during the summer at PUC (or those taking the basic or advanced Glasser training at locations around the world) learn about the WDEP method of problem-solving conferencing. The letters WDEP stand for categories of questions that will assist the person you are conferencing with – be they student, fellow teacher, parent, or administrator – to effectively self-evaluate and engage in solving the problem, whatever the problem may be.
W stands for Want or What do you Want?
D stands for Doing or What are you Doing?
E stands for Evaluation or Is it Working?
P stands for Plan or What is your Plan?
There are many different questions in each of these categories that can be asked to facilitate self-evaluation and discussion. The key is that good questions can help your student or your child or whoever it is you are trying to help to figure out what they should do and how they should do it. Good questions also minimize the talking that we do and maximize the talking of the person who should be doing the talking – that being your student or child or colleague.
Examples of questions from each of these categories include –
What do you want?
What is your goal?
What are you willing to settle for?
How do you want your class to be?
When was the last time you were happy?
What are you doing?
What action have you taken?
What have you tried?
When you think those thoughts, what do you usually do?
What do you do between 8:00 and 10:00 PM as a general rule?
Is it working?
If you continue to act that way, what do you think will happen?
Are you satisfied with the way things are?
In what ways have things improved?
Is your behavior helping you or hurting you?
What is your plan?
What? Where? When? With whom? How often? What time?
What would you commit yourself to for the rest of the week?
Can you think of something that would help you put this plan into action?
How committed are you to making this happen?
Whether you are creating a PBL lesson (Project-Based Learning) or leading out in a problem-solving conference, a great question is worth its weight in gold!
William Glasser: Champion of Choice is now available as an eBook and can be accessed at the following link –