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Fear of Asking Questions in a Question

I am receiving a large number of questions, and because they can apply to many people, I wanted to share the answers.

Today’s Question

“Why does answering questions in an online classroom give me more anxiety than answering questions in a physical classroom?”

This is a great question, because the question is the key to student success. The most innovative people begin solving big problems by forming questions first. 

There are a few reasons for anxiety in the on-line setting. 

  1. It’s an anxious time in general. Everyone is on edge. 
  2. Teachers are responding to questions differently on line because they are stressed to the max. This response will result in students becoming uncomfortable with asking questions because of what they have observed. 
  3. This stress is not understood, because most teachers don’t want to share that they are having trouble with a method of instruction for which none of them had formal training. They were thrown into the boiling pot without protective gear. Many of them are parents with children who need tending to, while continuing to deliver instruction that is designed for in class delivery. Many teachers are trying to present material while trying to see who has their hand up. I can tell you from my personal experience, it’s impossible to do both. Many students want immediate gratification, and that is not possible in an on-line learning environment unless it is a 1:1 learning experience. 
  4. Teachers are stressed, parents are stressed, and the social aspect of school has been taken away along with sports which were important outlets for students. The stress is expressed in anxiety, fits of temper, and depression. Asking a question is one of the most feared things for students next to public speaking. So, that adds to why asking questions in today’s learning environment would cause more anxiety. 

Whatever the reason for the anxiety, it is more important for students to ask questions now more than ever before. The questions just need to be delivered in an email and not with a raised hand on-line. 


Teachers can support their own needs and the needs of the students if they flip how they do instruction. I normally require students to look at their work before they leave the class and before I do formal instruction. I want to know what they don’t know. Their task is to determine what they do not understand about the questions at the end of chapter, a story, or on worksheets. They are then asked to form questions that will help clarify what is asked. I don’t want them to say, “I don’t get number 3.” I want to know what part of the questions are confusing to them. During covid, I had my students email me the questions and that is what drove my instruction. Because they had learned how important other’s questions are to them, they were 100% engaged when I led them to the discovery of the answers. I never give a direct answer without teaching them how to uncover the answer for themselves and listen to how others would attack the problems or questions. It was the most exciting teaching I have ever done, without doing direct instruction. 


To help the teacher understand how your children learn, Instead of helping with their homework, ask your children to form questions they can ask their teachers about the problems they are struggling with completing. Often, just forming questions will unlock the answer and they won’t need to speak to the teacher. Learning to ask for clarification is the most powerful skill students can learn. Later on in their lives they will fall back on the art of asking questions to solve big problems for which the answers can not be found on the internet. 

I am presently creating a course entitled “Overcoming the Fear of Asking Questions and How to Ask Effectively.” My subscribers will get to access the course for FREE for two months.

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