School-Based Intervention Idea from


Ask Open-Ended Questions  (Lanceley, 2001)

If a teacher who is faced with a confrontational student does not know what triggered that student’s defiant response, the instructor can ask neutral, open-ended questions to collect more information before responding.

You can pose ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ questions to more fully understand the problem situation and identify possible solutions. Some sample questions are "What do you think made you angry when you were talking with Billy?" and "Where were you when you realized that you had misplaced your science book?" One caution: Avoid asking ‘why"’questions (e.g., "Why did you get into that fight with Jerry?") because they can imply that you are blaming the student.


Lanceley, F.J. (1999). On-scene guide for crisis negotiators. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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