By Daniel T. Parker
This probably won't work for every class, but I recently rediscovered a solution to a problem I have about not getting questions from my college students.
No matter how many times I ask for questions during a lesson, I rarely receive any questions, even when I can tell that one or several students are puzzled by something. I understand that part of it is shyness concerning asking a question in front of their classmates.
Usually, I hold my classes right up until the "ten-til" mark, but a couple of weeks ago, I finished my prepared lesson about 15 minutes early. Instead of engaging the students in small talk or time-killing, I just said, ah, go on and get out of here, enjoy the extra time.
Wham. I was surrounded by five students wanting to ask questions. Since I hadn't waited until the "ten-til" mark to dismiss, they now had time to ask their questions AND get to their next class.
I remembered this having happened before, so I've tried a little experiment this week. I've been planning to end my classes 15 or 20 minutes early. In my conversation classes, all but one of my classes (and it was the night-time class) saw students coming up not to ask questions, but just to have conversation (hooray!). In both of my composition classes so far this week, I've ended up fielding several questions each time, and actually staying in class longer than I would have if I'd dismissed at my regular time.
Again, it probably won't work for highschool/middleschool classes, or maybe not even with every college class, but it seems to be getting the job done -- now, at least -- for me.