Pauses typically indicate that a speaker is waiting for a response or thinking about how they want to respond. Given the type of lesson, would you expect many pauses between speakers? What about long pauses or periods of silence?
Paying attention during pauses can give you valuable information about how a lesson is going. For example:
What is the students’ body language saying?What proportion of students are turned away from discussion or have body language that suggests they are trying to disengage? Check in with these students to let them know you notice their behavior.
Which listeners could become participants?Are there any students who are being very attentive, but aren’t answering questions or contributing during discussions? Might they join in with a bit of encouragement or support from you?
What does it take for a pause to break?Are students contributing easily or are you in a “war of wills” to see who gets uncomfortable with the silence first?
Stahl (1990) identified eight different ways that intentional pauses, or “wait time”, can be utilized in the classroom to facilitate students’ thinking and learning.