Make time for… Getting Socratic


“I cannot teach anyone anything; I can only make them think.” ~ Socrates

Watch out! I’m ’bout to get all Socratic up in this classroom!

One of my goals for this school year is to improve and expand my use of questions.

I mean this in the broadest possible context. I want to ask more and better questions.


  • …that get students thinking, discussing, even arguing
  • …to help them move forward
  • …to deepen their thinking
  • …to assess understanding
  • …rather than lecturing, when dealing with students’ behavior choices
  • …with colleagues to help move discussions forward or improve the functioning of our PLC
  • …with myself, to improve my reflection on my teaching practice

So, now that I’ve stated this goal, I need to attack it!

I’m going to come up with some key questions that I can use and practice. I’ll keep a cheat sheet handy in class.

More importantly, though, is a mindset of questioning. I have been and will continue to push myself to go to the question first when reaching for an arrow in my proverbial teaching quiver.

10 thoughts on “Make time for… Getting Socratic

  1. Hi Mr. Rice! I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I am majoring in elementary education. After reading your post, I remembered a video I watched this semester about asking the “right questions”. I love that you are trying to allow your students deeper thinking, and that you are taking it into your own hands, seeing what YOU can to to help and not putting it all of on the students! If ever educator had this mindset, I’m sure our students would be much more successful! The video I mentioned had a lot to say about asking opened-ended questions, instead of close-ended, which allows the students to actually think and not just answer with a simple “yes or no”. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Mr. Rice, it was very intuitive of you to realize how important the questions we ask others to answer should have substance and be appealing to the audience. Your experience has seemed to make the difference in this post, because you can see that a lot of personal observation and reflection went into the premises that you will base your questions on. Since I do have students on a different level (and as a former paraprofessional), I do understand the importance of asking your students questions that make them think, research it further, and engage it as if to “attack it” like you stated in your blog. More importantly, you have an assessment tool for your questions, which will gage the understanding of the questions you ask. I know this is an important tool to have because I remember very few teachers giving one iota if I thought they asked a crappy question, much less keep a record of it so they could ask better questions. Something else about this blog is that you considered the entire “family” in the loop of your aspirations to improve your questions. Making everyone you associate teaching with aware of the changes you are considering will also get them thinking in alignment with your new way of asking questions. Your quote by Socrates was a great additive to start off on your new journey, and it is quite true. Nice to know you are doing just that.

  3. Hello Tyler,

    I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I am a elementary education major. I am currently taking the EDM 310m class and we are required to comment on your blog. While reading your post, I agree that it is important to make your students think deeply about the lesson that is being taught in class. Also, I think it is a great idea to ask better understandable questions because this will help impact the students learning.

  4. Kevin,

    Thanks for the response. How do you foresee using the Socratic method in your classroom?

  5. Sydney,

    Thanks for reading and commenting – even if only because you are required to!

    Have you ever had a teacher who emphasized the Socratic method? If so, how did it impact you?

  6. Hi my name is Brittany Sparks and I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I really like how you set a goal about asking better questions. I do not think I have had a teacher who has used this method before. I think it is a great idea to ask questions that will make students think more deeply into a topic intead of just going on to the next subject. I will definitely take notes of these ideas for when I become a teacher.Thanks for posting!

  7. Brittany,

    Even better is to teach students to ask good questions and let their questions drive the learning. I wish I could say I’m there right now. I’ve been there at times in the past and it’s a goal of mine to get back to teaching that way!

  8. Mr. Rice,
    I am Lauren Lee and I am an elementary education major at the University of South Alabama. I am currently in EDM310 and my professor is having us comment on blogs and I have the pleasure of getting to read yours. I am so pleased about this post because we just went over asking the “right” questions in class. I believe it is great that you are not only wanting to focus on asking your students these questions but also with your colleagues and yourself. Have you thought about asking questions that are not just simply narrow-minded questions that are only asking for one simple answer. I suggest asking questions that allow others to truly think and question why the answer is what they say it is. What are some of the questions that you have come up with on your cheat sheet?
    Best of Luck,
    Lauren Lee

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