I remember hearing that on average teachers wait about one second for an answer. One second! This leads to students not trying to answer the question at all, giving a short answer or just hearing from the same people all the time.
Wait time is something that I have been thinking about a lot. As someone who likes to have a little more time to think about a question before sharing in a large group setting, I really value wait time. When I am in the role of teacher, I find it to be more difficult. Its not really that I think the silence is awkward or uncomfortable, I feel like I don’t want to put students on the spot. Its also hard for me not to call on the child that often shares (how can I not call on the smiling, eager student, bursting with something to share?).
I recently came across the concept of wait time in parent teacher conferences, while reading The Essential Conversation by Sara Lawrence Lightfoot. I think this is an important idea and could give parents the space to say something that they were hesitant to bring up. In my experience I haven’t seen wait time utilized in this type of setting. I think it could be very challenging to allow this type of space, especially taking into account time constraints. But I’ve been thinking about what a powerful tool it could be in getting to know your students and their families.
I know wait time will be something I continue to think about and work on.