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constructive silence

Like the last session, I liked the video clip. I think a short silence in class is good thing. I didn't think so before but I have through experience learned that students need time to digest the information and few pauses are healthy for them to be then ready for the next topic. They also respond and regain more information this way.

It certainly can make you nervous, thinking no one is listening to you. That is why I like to to give a project at end of class to put them into their own thoughts and apply the knowledge they just learned.

I agree. I have learned to take short pauses to give students a chance to interpret the material

That is often the best time to ask fro questions - after they have had a chance to review the material in their own mind.

I find that I have to watch the clock when waiting for an answer or allowing time to think. I imagine that I have given enough time to process, but only 5 seconds have passed. I think that 15 to 30 seconds feels like a long time when you are waiting, but it is well worth the thoughtful answers.

I feel the same way when counting the clock awaiting students responses. Giving them five minutes to work on a journal entry or a discussion question seems like an eternity. Still, it is good to utilize these silent gaps in the classroom. It allows the student to have to problem solve on their own while your still in the room. Sometimes, students go home after everything taught in class has yet to resonate, and get lost. Giving them time in the classroom assures this wont happen.

Hi Joseph,
Good comments about time. We are a culture of time and noise. In a lecture I will at times use a five second pause for reflection. That time is much like your example of five minutes, it seems like forever. The silence brings the students back into focus because they look up from what they are doing to see if something is wrong because the teacher stopped talking.


Patience...the hardest thing for me to learn. Watching the clock adds to my stress and can be distracting to students observing me. Take the pause, make eye contact, facial expression or gestures to prompt question or comment...or just wait. Answers will come but yoiu have to have the patience to let them come from the audience.

I personally hate the silence but i too have come to understand the importance of the pause. I tend to get nervous because the pause seems like an eternity but once you have done it a few times the students come to realise what is expected of them then the questions flow.

Hi Russell,
Thanks for sharing your comments about the "pause". Yes, it is hard to do at first because our culture is one of noise. Also, with the pause it seems like nothing is going on but it really is as you have experienced.
I know your experience with using the pause will help other instructors see the value of making it a part of their instructional delivery.

Yes, I agree. a breif moment of silence between subjects does help for students to digest the information and formulate any questions about what you have just gone over. It also gives me a moment to collect my thoughts before moving on.

i am not sure about a silenece break

a reinforcement activity would be better in my mind

Hi Petar,
Each of these strategies have different purposes. The silence break is intended to be 3-5 seconds in length to let the students reset their brains and get them to focus on you.
The reinforcement activity is used at the end of a segment of instruction and takes longer to implement. It is intended to increase the retention of the content that has just been covered.
I wish you much success in using both of them.

Just as it's important to give the students time to reset for the next segment of a lesson, I think it's also good to give them time to answer questions. Often I get in the habit of thinking that silence after I've posed a question is a negative thing, and I tend to cut in and answer my own questions. It can be difficult to wait out that silence until a student responds. But if we never allow for that silence and ride it out, students will become conditioned to believe that you will just answer your own questions. So learn to bear that uncomfortable silence!

Hi Brooks,
Great advice. Thanks for sharing this strategy for getting students involved in class discussion. This method lets them think over their responses and then share their thinking.

I give the students time to think and then respond. Otherwise they learn that you will answer for them.

Hi Bonnie,
Good point. This makes me smile because as we instructors know students are very good at training us. So we can't make the mistake of filling in the answers for them but we need to wait them out and have them answer the questions themselves. This is what increases learning.

it's important to take a break or pause for a few moments. It allows the students to process what has just been delivered, OR allows them the time to finish writing down their notes, OR allows them the time to think about a question they may want to ask and allows them to not have to feel like they are interrupting the flow of class.

It is hard to wait out the silence so what i try to do instead of answering my own question is to present other questions that will try to lead them into the answer.

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