Pausing as an instructional tool
One obvious advantage of pausing in an instructional context is that it allows students time to think and process information. When used effectively it can also be a great way to ‘coax’ answers and responses out of students who would otherwise be shy or disinterested (or simply too tired to focus at the moment).
Try the following techniques and watch miracles happen!:
- Pause halfway when saying a keyword or phrase, and coax the rest of the word from the students. “The stomach produces digestive en, en…………., enzymes! Yes, well done. Enzymes is correct”. This technique aids memory and gets kids focused on the content.
- Stop part-way through a lesson and do a quick review. Bring the kids to the front of the class if you must. Ask individual students some pertinent questions. Pause and allow enough time for the students to answer.
- Pause and check that the students understand what you have said thus far. “Okay, put your thumbs up if you understand everything so far. Does anyone have any questions? (Pause). Okay, in that case, can I move on? Thank you.”
- Did you just notice the pause after asking if anyone has any questions? That’s important, isn’t it? We must pause for ‘question time’ at least once every 30 minutes. Sometimes our pace can be very fast (especially with exam-level classes) and students may not feel confident enough to ‘butt-in’ and ask questions when you are mid-sentence. Allow them time to ask. Make your students feel that asking questions is a good thing and that you are happy, very happy, to help when needed.
- Pause between topics and sub-topics, and allow students to think for a moment. When you’re teaching at the pace of a steam-train it can become quite overwhelming for your students.
- Look at your students and notice how many have finished writing their notes. Pause to allow time to finish the note-taking. If you’re not sure who’s not finished, then you can simply ask “Does anyone need more time?”.
Pausing is a very powerful technique when it is used properly. Use pausing to:
- Get your students focused and listening without being confrontational in the process
- Reinforce the seriousness of a situation (e.g. when homework isn’t handed in)
- Aid instruction through response ‘coaxing’, pausing for ‘question-time’, checking that students understand everything, allowing students to think between topics and subtopics and allowing adequate time for note-taking.
This article originally appeared at: https://richardjamesrogers.com/2018/12/09/the-power-of-pausing/
Illustrations by: Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati