Wait Time

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 5.24.40 PMBeing home with the flu and the beginning of pneumonia this week has really had me rethinking priorities. While the surgery is behind me my body obviously still had some trauma considering it got hit so hard. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to do nothing and just wait; How waiting itself is an important and extremely challenging practice. I think about my four year old son Connor and how when he asks for a bottle of juice, he hardly has the patience to wait for me to complete the task at hand before screaming four more times. How does this relate back to our students at Mar Vista? Well, before winter vacation, Superintendent Dr. Rodriguez and I walked through most classrooms and I came away thinking about how being patient with our students and giving them time to process and think is a true gift.

What does this look like? It looks like wait time. Wait time is the period of silence between the time a question is asked and the time when one or more people respond to that question. It is so simple, yet so challenging, especially in the classroom setting. Imagine for a moment that you are a classroom teacher with 25 students and you need to allow silence; you need to know that there is learning in silence; that there is production; that there is health. I, for one, can’t imagine anything quite so simple and challenging.

At Mar Vista, our goal is to ask students a question and give them time to ponder. Shifting ourselves to purposely wait 5 seconds rather than the typical 1 second. In this way, we see many changes in the classroom, including:

  • The number of unsolicited but appropriate responses increases
  • Failure to respond decreases
  • Student confidence increases
  • Students ask more questions

Try it at home: Ask a question, wait, and then ask for a response. Remember silence is your friend!

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