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I think it is a good thing when a teacher does not know an answer to a question and admits that. Certainly, none of us knows everything, and it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise. But, what is even more important to me is that when I don't know and say so, I am modeling something for my students, that their teacher is a learner, too. Sometimes we look things up on the spot, thanks to technology today, sometimes I do research and report back to the class, and sometimes I treat it as a voluntary homework assignment for the entire class and give a few extra points for intellectual curiosity and work.
The above posters make excellent points. Put the ball back into the student's court by asking him or her to make and inference or draw a conclusion. Frequently, the teacher and the class will arrive at an answer together. In addition, let the teacher should let the student know that he or she does not know but is willing to find out. The teacher should encourage the students to find the answer first. If the information is factual, content oriented information that the teacher should know, then the teacher would need to work harder at strengthening his or her foundational knowledge.
The worst thing a teacher can do is pretend to know the answer, because it's been my experience that students are pretty adept at spotting someone who doesn't know what they are talking about. Beyond that, I agree with the above answers. Teachers are rightly encouraged to model the behaviors and skills they wish to see from their students. What better way is there to do this than by demonstrating curiosity and a desire to be a lifetime learner? In fact, I would suggest that the fact that students are asking tough questions is a dead giveaway that the teacher is creating an atmosphere of curiosity and rigorous intellectual give-and-take. That said, a teacher should obviously strive to learn as much as possible about the subject they teach.
I always have a "we're all learning together" motto in my classroom. When a student has a question that I cannot answer, I can use that as a real 'life-long learning moment' to show the students how to find the answer, possibly on a search engine or database, definitely illustrating the point that regardless of diploma, you never stop having to learn, teach yourself, or fact find.
Since most students all have smart phones now, it definitely wouldn't be wise to try to bluff your way out of the situation with a made-up answer! It is far too easy for students to look up the facts for themselves--which on my 'open technology campus' is exactly what I might challenge the students to do-- "Okay, class, I admit that I have no idea what the answer to the question is, so everyone pull out their phones. First one to find the correct answer is the winner!"
Often, my students ask questions that can't be answered by anyone, such as "How was the universe created?" We have a wall outside our classroom where these questions are posted. I have found that students enjoy contributing to the Great Wall of Questions as well as reading what others have asked. It's a way to spark intellectual curiosity and to display the depth of thinking that led to asking the question in the first place. When parents and guests come to visit the school, they often linger at the wall, sometimes asking questions of their own.
If I suspect the student can get to the answer, sometimes I'll ask questions of my own to help them along in their reasoning, or I'll load up an image from the internet to guide them.
The above posts really tell you all you need to know if a student asks a question you don't know the answer to despite your knowledge of the subject. I, too, had the "we're in this together" attitude developed in class, so the idea that I had to look for the answer also helped students admit when they didn't get something. I found it a very useful tool to show students that learning is lifelong, and no one can know everything. Again, students could see that it was ok to ask questions to try to stump the teacher, especially in an honors class, which I then turned around to them and asked which ways they would use to find the answer. I love the idea of the questions in the hallway! What intellectual curiosity on display!
s/he should tell the student"that u ve raised a good issue
and tell him that i will tell it tommorrow"
well thats what most of my teachers do
If they don't know the answer they should say 1 of these 3 things:
1) Tell the child they don't know the answer and that they will find the answer for tomorrow.
2) Tell the child to research the question and tell them for tomorrow.
3) Tell the child to ask their parents.
I agree ths students will totally be able to tell if you do not know the answer and are trying to act like you do. Then you lose credibility and trust, which are so important for a comfortable classroom environment. I know a teacher that gives her students extra credit if they can come up with a question that she cannot answer. This motivates students to think critically. Then she has them find the answer and share it with the class. I love this idea and will begin trying it myself.
Just tell the student that you do not know about it and then appreciate his curiosity and tell him that you will search about it and then search and tell him
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