One Last Question … One Last Word

#5days5words … and for the very last day of this blogging challenge, I’m going to follow the rules with a word that’s actually also a question: why? For the past three years, this word has guided most of my interactions with my previous teaching partner, Paula, and I’m hoping that it’s going to guide more of my interactions with my new teaching partner, Carey.

Two of my favourite questions in education stem from this word:

I think more than any other question, why has the power to change us.

  • Why are we putting these materials/this furniture here?
  • Why are we letting children self-select these items and/or why are we not?
  • Why are we teaching these words in isolation and/or why are we not?
  • Why are we asking this question?
  • Why are we regrouping as a full class now?
  • Why do all children need to spend their Brain Break in the same way?

  • Why are we teaching this to everyone, or why are we only teaching this to some children?
  • Why does it matter that all children do __________________ or why does it matter that they don’t?

This list could go on forever. Some of these why questions will make you uncomfortable. Some of these why questions made me uncomfortable … but many of them also inspired some of the most positive changes in my teaching career. Find someone that can ask you why, and engage in the important conversations that stem from this whyWho are your “why” people, and what are the benefits in having them? I think that education has the power to change with a single word: why?


2 thoughts on “One Last Question … One Last Word

  1. I taught grade 5 for 3 years before I moved to Ontario. My first classroom job here was in a kindergarten class. (2003!) I walked in to a nearly empty classroom – very few books, no math materials or teacher materials, lots of Barbies! It was a really exhausting year for me. Because it was my first year, I had to have an evaluation and because it was an LTO contract, I wanted an evaluation so I could get a permanent job. When my principal came in to observe, he took lots of notes. When we got together to talk about it, he started to ask me “Why” I was doing certain things. I immediately went on the defence, mostly because I was not feeling confident about my work. After 2 or 3 “why did you…” questions, he said, “You know, I am interested in your answers. But I really just want to know if you can tell me WHY you are doing things a certain way. I want to know that you have thought about doing the right thing rather than just doing something.” I have never forgotten that! Every time I set up my classroom for a new year, or move something around, every time I buy a new book to read aloud, every time I lesson plan, I take a quick second to make sure I can identify my why. Sometimes, it’s something basic, like “Why am I putting this shelf here? Because it’s the only place it fits and need the shelf for the books!” Other times it helps me figure out how my next step fits with my previous steps and will get me to where I want to go. I think WHY is a really, really important question to ask ourselves!

    • Lisa, I cannot tell you how much I love this comment! This principal’s response is going to stick with me from now on. I think that everyone needs to read this. Makes you think about the value in asking “why,” but also considering the “why” for ourselves.


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