Ask and You Will Receive

I was going over assignment questions the other day, and a student said that she did not understand what was written on the board.  I say okay… She continues asking if could I explain “it” to her.  Explain what?  I ask.  She hadn’t asked a question.


“I don’t get it.”

What don’t you get?

“I don’t get it,” is as helpful to a teacher as telling a doctor you’re feeling under the weather.  Without specific symptoms, the doctor will not be able to help you.  For instance, you would tell the doctor things like: “My throat is sore,” “My knee aches,” or “My stomach hurts.”  Similarly, you need to provide specific symptoms to your teacher.  “I don’t understand why the slope is positive.  Both coordinates are negative.”  With a question like this, I can quickly determine how to help this student.

Speak the language.

When you don’t get something in math or science, what specifically don’t you get?  The teacher can more quickly diagnose your problem if you use precise language.  Whatchamacallits and thingamajigs are neither mathematical nor scientific terms.  If the precise words are not on the tip of your tongue, this may be an indication that you need a wholesale re-teach.  This is often the case and entails a time commitment and some work on your part.  That’s okay.  We all learn at our own personal pace.  In any event, that’s what 9th Period Academic Enhancement is for.

Be metacognitive.

Metacognition is being aware of what you’re learning, why you’re learning it, and actively participating in the acquisition of that learning.  That is, being aware of how you learn is being metacognitive.  Knowing what you don’t get is the beginning of this metacognition.

Think reflectively about what you don’t get as you phrase your next superb question for your teacher.  It will save you time, speeding up the learning process.