Thursday, June 16, 2022

Wait Five Beats

In Five beats from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin shares,

“Wait for five beats. Kneejerk is not an admirable trait.”

This is really hard for my students because I believe that when you are young, you want to act fast and act now. Being patient is not easy to do.

I also think that teachers tend to encourage this kneejerk behavior because we ask for an answer and if the student doesn’t answer quickly, we assume that they don’t know the answer. Instead, students process the question at different speeds and it may take some longer to understand the question than others.

I remember as a student that I had a fear that I would be chosen to answer that the fear crowded out the knowledge. If I knew that answer, the panic took precedence over the answer and I was unable to answer the question.

When I was learning to wait before expecting an answer, it felt like the wait time was so long! But the more I practiced it, the easier it was to do.

First I would explain to the class that I would ask a question to the entire class and then wait for everyone to have time to process the question. I didn’t want anyone to raise their hand until I asked for them to do so or I might ask someone specific. This would give everyone time to process the question.

I would ask students to give me a thumbs up if they were ready to answer the question and then wait a little longer for the others if needed. Then I would tell students if they were unsure, to put their thumb out to the side and if they didn’t know the answer to put their thumbs down. This helped many to save face and let me know who I might need to help individually.

When I started to do this, students were more engaged and participated in the question and answer session. Students lost that panicked look of having to have an answer immediately. There was more thoughtful pondering when I asked a question. It also kept students from guessing at answers and throwing out wrong answers. These wrong answers could be confusing to those still trying to process the question.

Do you give wait time before asking questions? Please share your experience.

Photo by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash

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