My Magic Question

I have a magic question.  It is simple yet powerful.  It is empowering and not degrading. It is:

“In the future, what would I see different?”

I use this question all day, in all situations, with all ages of students.  If I am speaking with a student about an undesirable behavior I have observed — I ask this question.  If I see a student who has forgotten or is struggling with a school routine or expectation — I ask this question.  If I am dialoguing with children who are stuck in conflict or trying to make sense of the choices they made — I ask this question.

This question is magic because it …

  1. Moves the conversation from an authoritative lecture to an supportive learning opportunity
  2. Empowers students to be thinkers and use their voice
  3. Creates a natural opportunity for student reflection and proposed action
  4. Creates a sense of student buy-in where the student can actually follow through on the “difference” they name
  5. Shows the student you don’t define her/him by his/her current choice/action but rather …
  6. … Shows the student you believe they are capable of changing behaviors and making positive choices
  7. Allows students to practice problem solving skills and become solution-focused

This question has not failed me.  Sure, sometimes students stop and hesitate before answering.  However, I like to believe it is because they are genuinely surprised that someone would ask and then they are thinking of an honest, thoughtful response.  I love the way that when I ask this question, a sense of worry visibly disappears from student faces.  They know that this is not a punitive conversation where they will end up “in trouble.”  Rather, it seems that when students hear this question, they realize that I am supporting them in their behavior and action development. It is always inspiring to hear the response of a student who clearly has a plan to choose a different plan of action in the future.  It is also liberating to spend more time listening than talking.

So, go ahead.  Steal my magic question.  I dare you.

3 thoughts on “My Magic Question

  1. tbondclegg says:

    I love this! I am definitely going reframe how I chat with students and harness the power of this magic question! Thanks for sharing this.

    Like

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