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Why?

My four-year-old's favorite question (unsurprisingly) is "why?" She loves to understand how things work, why things don't work, and then follows up my clear, detailed answer with another "why?"


The question "why" is one we should be asking ourselves often- Why am I teaching this ____? Why am I using this strategy? Why is the student (or teacher, or parent) responding this way? Why was ___ successful? Etc.


When we ask ourselves the question "why" we are probing deeper. Maybe we are probing into our motivation and rationale behind something we have always done. Maybe we are diving into the antecedent to a behavior. Maybe we are seeking to understand the cause of a success or failure. This simple question has the capacity to change our actions from routine to intentional. Accidental successes to carefully planned and justified. The question has the capacity to change our relationships from reactionary to collaborative.


As educators, we should be able to justify what we are doing by answering the question of "why" each time. Breaking away from the mentality of "that's the way we have always done it" and moving towards "I am doing this because..." has the potential to move us from being a good educator to a great educator. However, it is not the question that holds the power, but what we do with the answer to the question that results in the change. If I cannot justify what I am doing or why I am doing is a specific way, it requires me to consider if what I am doing is really best practice.


This is one of the reasons I loved having student teachers! During the time the student teachers were with me, I would intentionally talk though my thinking process, explaining what I was doing and why. When I came across situations in which I was not able to completely explain why I was doing something a certain way, rather than feel defeated or the need to overcompensate, this was a perfect opportunity for collaboration to find a way to best meet the needs of my students.


My challenge to you is to start asking yourself "why" more often and then begin to share your "why's" with your students or colleagues.



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