ADVICE: How to ask Questions to get Helpful Answers
This article has been written by Imogen Van der Meer, a VCE English tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Imogen then please check out her page here.
We all despise it, we all wish we never have to do it, we all wish there was another way, any other way, that we can do it. But in the end, there’s no avoiding it. At some point, for some task, on some concept, you are going to get stuck. Or at the very least, you are going to get confused. And at that point, you’re going to have to do what you’ve been dreading… and ask the teacher for some help.
Clearly, you aren’t alone in thinking this can be the most annoying thing ever. And it’s not necessarily because teachers are mean, or boring, or whatever. It’s annoying because, usually, you don’t end up getting the help you are after.
This can be very frustrating, especially when you’ve taken time out of your lunch or have stayed back after school to get some guidance, only for it to be a complete waste of your time. But you have to remember that your teacher is also taking time out of their day to help you one-on-one. So the very least you could do is to come prepared.
And by ‘prepared’, I don’t mean armed with a notepad and pen or an Ipad (although this could come in handy if you’re the type of person who forgets all the details of a conversation as soon as you walk away).
What I mean is, you need to approach your teachers after you’ve taken the time to figure out exactly what it is that you’re having trouble with. You need to have prepared specific questions in your head, that you can get specific answers to.
Granted, this can be quite difficult to do if there’s a whole chunk of curriculum that you just can’t get your head around. But in these cases, you need to ask yourself why you can’t get your head around it. For instance, were you absent when the class went through this concept? Is there a diagram that doesn’t make sense to you? Is there a word the teacher keeps saying but you don’t know what it means?
If you know why you are struggling, the teacher will have a better chance of knowing how to help you. But if you give them no information, they’ll have no choice but to refer you to the set coursework, for they will automatically assume you just haven’t gone through it yet.
Just remember: Never approach a teacher and say, “I don’t get it”. You need to always be able to finish the sentence, “I don’t get it because…”.
Tell them that, and they’ll tell you what you need to hear.
Once again, good luck with your studies everyone!
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