Lessons from Teacher Ciruela
Luckily for our higher educational system, query classes have always received widespread support. A query class enables one or more teachers to sit close together in small groups of two -at the most, three- students in order to carefully listen to their questions and clarify their feelings of doubt and uncertainty.
How great it would be if this healthy practice could be exported also to our secondary educational system. This private time open for only one individual or just a very few of them is the right instance a student needs to be able to assemble his learning experiences and also a perfect opportunity for the teacher to find out about personal issues and pay particular attention to each of them. Thus, this is the time when the interaction between teachers and learners grows more and more intense and fruitful.
However, I'm sorry to tell you, buddy, you'll not get this kind of class become a profitable experience unless you know pretty well how to manage time as democratically as possible. If you invest too much time dealing with some of the queries then some others won't be properly attended and you'll be ruining all chances of getting a successful overall outcome.
Furthermore, you'll have to try and actively encourage each one of your students to submit their query. And this is not as easy as pie. The hardest part is boosting everyone's confidence, especially the shyer one's... who would not ask so as to keep their secret thoughts hidden: I've understood little of what has been said, I've not studied hard enough, I'm so clumsy and awkward, I feel I'm a hairy monster.
Then try to have an even-handed approach and sit close to that one who says nothing. Take a quick look at what they're doing and start by suggesting some topic. Talk with them about all difficulties they have encountered when undertaking their tasks. It's up to you to break the ice.
Sometimes I sit right beside some student and throw out the question: What do you think your score will be on the test? Raising a question at random that easily leads to a friendly chat will help you fish for the right information you need in order to personalize and serve the learning needs of each student.
Needless to say, you know full well what a cheating, resentful, harsh person I am... so never doubt me: by early spotting my students' weaknesses I can find the most accurate way of picking and choosing the hardest damn questions for the test.