Picture this, it’s Monday morning and you’re face-to-face with your first speech therapy group of the day. Like clockwork, I bet you automatically ask the following question: “So, how was your weekend?” And like clockwork, you probably hear them moan the word “good” as if they were lifeless zombies, right?
I’m pretty sure I’m right.
Let me dig a bit deeper into your Monday morning conversation routine to see if I can successfully guess something else. How about this? After your students throw you the cliche response of “good,” I can most certainly assume that you follow that up with,“Well, what did you do over the weekend?” And then each and every kiddo in your speech therapy room probably responds with the word “nothing.”
Nothing?! Really?! Like, you did absolutely nothing all weekend?!
I don’t blame students for responding to these types of questions with such vanilla replies. You know why? Because in all honesty, the actual questions themselves are BEYOND vanilla. If you really want your students to participate in your presented back-and-forth inquiry about their weekend, you need to set up the questions in a way that doesn’t sound robotic.
No more robotic questions!
I’m guilty of asking robotic questions to my students. So over the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with the idea that maybe, just maybe, if I asked questions that were less predictable, less stereotypical, I might receive responses that were not one word answers like “good” or “nothing.” Below you will find the questions that I’ve been using and I have to admit, they seem to be working. As you will see, these questions are much more engaging than what I feel we all typically ask. And with these engaging questions, I pretty much always get some legitimate responses.
- What was the best thing that happened to you this past weekend?
- What was the worst thing that happened to you this past weekend?
- Tell me something that made you laugh this past weekend.
- Tell me something that surprised you this past weekend.
- How did you help someone this past weekend?
- How did someone help you this past weekend?
- Tell me one thing that you learned this past weekend.
- Tell me one thing that you taught someone this past weekend.
- Tell me about one meal that you enjoyed eating this past weekend.
- Tell me about one meal that you disliked eating this past weekend.
Less broad, more specific.
Questions like “How was your weekend?” or “What did you do this weekend?” are just too broad. I’ve found that when we sprinkle of bit of specifics into the mix, that does wonderers for the overall expressive output. That’s why my examples are a bit more on the specific side, ya know? So let’s make it a point to stay away from the broad and instead, embrace more specific questions.
In closing . . .
By no means am I trying to act like the questions I just shared with you are perfect. They aren’t perfect. Far from it. They are merely meant to be used as a starting point. Use them as a template and feel free to remix and tweak each one to better fit your personality and/or the personalities of your students. It’s my hope that by being a bit more conscious about the questions we ask during the beginning of the week, we’re able to gain new insights into how our kiddos reflect about their weekends and how they choose to express those weekend experiences with us.