“Are there any questions?”

…Following this year’s INSET I vowed never to say these words again. Yet, they crept back into my lessons almost immediately. Scolding myself at the start of most days since, I’m beginning to change the phrasing and structure of my questioning:

What do you understand?”

“What is the first step to this task, and what should you include?”

A simple re-framing works wonders for checking understanding, but I made another vow: stop asking only one pupil (I knew I was guilty of this one too!).

So if, like me (and I wrote and delivered the session on Questioning!) you’re finding that with all the good intentions in the world, you’ve fallen back into those old habits, here’s a reminder of some of the strategies for making questioning in your class room more effective.

Cold Calling:
Instead of calling on those with hand ups, check the understanding of a range and variety of pupils through directed questioning. A ‘no hands up’ strategy makes all pupils accountable for being ready to answer. More thinking and more engagement!
*See below for details on what to avoid here*
Rounding Up:
A pupil give a partially answer and you finished it for them- Who’s working harder? Who understands fully?
Right is Right:

Use follow up questions to develop pupil responses until they get it ‘fully right’!

Only asking one or two pupils, or the same one or two pupils.
This limits the feedback you are gaining on the understanding of the whole class.
Say it Again, Better:

Like above, this challenges the quality of the response, and gives pupils an opportunity to rephrase and refine their answers.

Moving on after one right answer.
Is everyone secure?
Even asking a few pupils you are worried about to repeat a correct answer can help to reinforce the ‘right’ answers.
What have you understood? Have you understood?


Planning in some of the above can help to remind you of the techniques. The more you use them, the quicker they’ll become a habitual part of your teaching repertoire.

*A note about Cold Calling:

  1. It’s not just a random process (like, perhaps, using a name generator or lollypop sticks) but this should be strategic. It’s a means of targeting and checking understanding based on your knowledge of the pupils. Sometimes that’s because you want to check someone has overcome a previous misconception; or you want to give a pupil a public boost on a question you know they can nail.
  2. Remember it’s not punishment or a way to reprimand/catch pupils out. Keep it positive!


Mrs Martin – Head of Drama, Coaching Lead, NQT+ Coordinator

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