ONE small change- HUGE results!

Classroom management
To find out, you'll have to watch the video!
Here's a simple technique to improve your teaching and engage your learners - no skill or extra training required. Try it in your next class.

How about if I told you that there was one tiny change you could make to your teaching that would make an enormous difference to your confidence in the classroom, to your ability to teach well and engage your learners, and to their ability to understand, process information and get more involved. What if I also told you that this is backed by research, it requires no additional training and it’s super easy to implement? I bet you’re intrigued now aren’t you. Well keep watching and I’ll tell you what it is. I’m Jo Gakonga, I’m a teacher, educator, CELTA trainer and assessor, and I make videos for trainees, novice teachers and English teachers a bit further down the line.

OK- this magic addition to your classroom is very simple and I want you to try it out in your next class. (pause for 3). I’m going to tell you what the advantages of it are first and I want you to see if you can guess what it is. I promise I’ll tell you at the end.

So here we go There’s good research evidence that doing this will increase the length and the correctness of learners responses, it will also increase the number of answers that your learners volunteer and it’ll mean that more of your learners will attempt to answer questions - even the shy ones. If you do this there’s even evidence that it increases test scores.

This little change isn’t only beneficial for the learners either. When teachers do this they tend to ask questions that are more varied and more flexible and ones that require their learners to process more complex information and use high-level thinking skills. Basically – it helps you as a teacher to ask better questions.

The magic formula? All you have to do is to wait. For three seconds. That’s it.

That seems like an awful lot of benefit for one small change, doesn’t it? But there’s a lot of classroom research evidence over the past 50 years that bares this out. Sometimes this is called wait time and sometimes it’s called think time but in either case, the practicality is just to wait (pause) and allow a bit of space in the class (pause) for 3 to 5 seconds.

If you think about it, it’s not that surprising that this is effective (and as a teacher, and I put up my own hand here), we tend to be very quick to supply the answers. We want to help.

Sometimes this is really useful, but often if we give the learners more of a chance to think, they can work things out for themselves. This is especially true in language classrooms and particularly at lower levels. They need time to let things sink in or to get things out. Not only that but it helps you as a teacher too if you’ve got a bit more processing time pause-just stop. Take a breath. Count to 3.

So when might it be useful to wait? Here are a few ideas to start you off:

The first is after you ask a question. Don’t be too quick to jump in if you get silence, don’t reword the question. Just wait three seconds and see what happens.

The next one is when the learners are answering and they stumble. It’s easy to interrupt, or to try to complete this sentence for them. Don’t. Just wait three seconds and see what happens.

Number three is after a learner has given an answer. Pause here. Give a chance for other people in the class to volunteer their reactions or comments. If you’ve never done this before, it might end up with some longer silences, but over time learners will realise that it’s OK, if I probably expected for them to join in here.

Four is as a teacher during a presentation. If you’ve given them some information, especially if that’s written on the board, you might want some time for them to look at it, process it, make sure they understand. Three seconds of think time without any questions and THEN use questions to check that they have understood.

Next is if you’re in a situation where you need to think. Maybe someone just asked you a good question. Maybe some language has come up that you weren’t expecting? It’s okay to pause. Give yourself the moment. Your explanations will be clearer afterwards because of it.

Finally, you might want to use pause as a way to create a mood in class, to generate anticipation, expectation, uncertainty. You might want to pose a rhetorical question and let them mull over it for a few seconds. Silence can be a powerful tool here.

Try it in your next class and see what happens when you use it at different points of the lesson. It’s an easy addition to your teachers toolkit and you might find it surprisingly effective.

I hope that was helpful whatever stage of your career you are at and if you want more teaching tips like subscribe and check out the website.
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