How to Deal with Unexpected Questions
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Teachers know everything, or so our students think! They can answer any questions, even the age-old gem “Who came first: the chicken or the egg?”.
Okay, maybe not so much! We all know that it is impossible to know everything. Teachers are certainly knowledgeable in the subject they teach, but even so, they might still encounter a question they can’t answer. It’s one thing if they can fill in their knowledge gap with a quick use of Google, but what happens during a lesson when a student asks you something you don’t know? How should we deal with unexpected questions in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom?
Well, there are a few things you can do:
[A] Pretend you didn’t hear and carry on teaching.
[B] Make something and hope the student won’t fact check you.
[C] Don’t move. Maybe, they won’t notice you.
[D] Read our article to know how to confidently and properly answer an student’s unexpected question.
To make your life easier and less stressful, we came up with a couple of ways you can deal with curious students and their questions to strengthen your relationships with them and enhance the learning experience.
Acknowledge the question
First of all, you need to acknowledge the question. Don’t pretend you didn’t hear it. Don’t come up with something and move on. Don’t rely on running out of time. We want curious students in our classroom. By acknowledging the question, you show your students that you appreciate their curiosity.
Through questioning, people deepen their understanding of the world around them and build a love for learning. It should be noted that by acknowledging the question, we don’t mean that you have to answer the question right away. Instead just let the student know they were heard and how you will get back to them.
You don’t need to get back to them right away. There are a few different ways you can tackle the conundrum of giving an answer you don’t know!
Say you don’t know
Nobody, except for students, expects you to know EVERYTHING about your subject; nobody will think any less of you if you don’t know the answer. By acknowledging that you don’t know the answer yet, you underline your credibility and trustworthiness. Students see that you don’t attempt to cover up a lack of knowledge by lies. Acknowledging a weakness also helps them relate to you. They see that it is okay to not know something.
But don’t forget to always follow through. If you don’t have time at that moment, then let your students know that next class you are going to tell them the answer to their question. We can guarantee you that they will not forget about it, so don’t let them down.
Make it a group project
If you have time and you don’t know the answer, then transform the question into a classroom project. Tell them that you don’t know the answer, and work with them on finding the answer. The unexpected question can become a great source of engaged discussion where students can shine and show their expertise. Make sure that regardless of what answer your students come up with, you can fact check it: either use the internet or just let them know that while their answer seems to be very plausible, you are going to check it at home and let them know if they were right next time.
Outsource the question
Allow somebody to shine. Maybe there is some extraordinary student who has already thought of a question like that. Make sure though, you still fact check the student’s answer and ask everybody else to do it too. While somebody can be sure of their answer, they may still be mistaken, so it is important to teach students to check what they hear.
Transform it into homework
If you don’t have time, don’t want to make it a group project, and don’t want to accept you don’t know something, you can always make it an extra homework assignment. Be aware though, that it is always better to speak up about not knowing the answer because it strengthens your student’s trust towards you. Also, assigning it as homework does not free you from researching the answer yourself. To make sure students come up with the right answer, you need to know what the correct answer actually is.
Unexpected questions are one of the sources of increased grey hair on the heads of young teachers. People are afraid of uncertainties and unexpected things, but when you are prepared for them, you won’t need to freak out. Our suggestions ensure that when the day comes for you to answer that question, it will not be scary, but an opportunity to have some fun with students. Thus, always fact check, be curious, honest and never leave the question unanswered.
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- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.