restricted access Unexpected Questions: Reflecting on the Teacher’s Experience of Responding in Class


Questions are integral to the classroom experience. Teachers are schooled in posing good questions, yet, beyond the tendency to focus on teacher’s interpretations of being asked questions, literature on teachers’ experiences of being asked questions by students is thin. This phenomenological study seeks to reveal the lived experience of classroom teachers as they are asked an unexpected, yet relevant, question in their classroom. Using van Manen’s (1990 Using van Manen’s (2014) approach, this study sought to reveal the phenomenological themes unique to this experience for a secondary science or mathematics teacher. Themes uncovered included: being uncertain in front of students, feeling unprepared to answer a question, feeling the pressure of expertise, the frustration of being disrupted while teaching, shifting teacher focus, and embracing vulnerability while teaching. Throughout this study, the teacher experience is divulged to the reader with a focus on the question, “what is it like for a teacher in this moment?” Perhaps, it is in this moment, this created uncertainty, that a teacher truly experiences what it is like to teach as they move beyond the pre-prepared plan for that day.