Almost every teacher does it.
But is it effective?
Is it effective to stop your lesson and wait on students who are talking?
Well, yes and no.
While it’s true that the strategy can help get wayward students back on track, it does little to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Thus, teachers who use the strategy find themselves using it a lot.
They also find that over time it loses its effectiveness.
What may take just a few seconds of waiting in September takes nearly a minute in November.
By January, it may not work at all.
So does this mean you should throw it out altogether?
By no means. In fact, done in a certain way, the strategy can be very effective. So much so that it grows stronger with time—until you no longer have to use it.
The key is to pair the strategy with a clear and direct response.
The way it works is that once your students notice you waiting, once they stop talking and look at you, you’re going to take action.
At this point, however, the strategy splits into two different responses, or modes of action, depending on the number of students involved.
If you had been waiting on just a few students to stop talking, say less than four or five, then you would follow your delay with whatever consequence is called for under the guidelines of your classroom management plan.
“John, Karla, Anthony, and Abigail, you each have a warning for breaking rule number two.”
When followed by a consequence, waiting shines a light on the misbehavior. It further clarifies what isn’t okay and sends the message that learning is sacred.
So sacred that you refuse to go on if it’s being tainted by interruption. Further, it shows that protecting the right of every student to learn and enjoy school without interference is your number one priority.
Enforcing a consequence takes just a few seconds, and you don’t have to say another word. You can then continue with your lesson as if nothing happened.
If, however, more than a few students are talking during your lesson, then it’s a sign that you’re either on the cusp of losing control of your class or you’re already there.
In this case, the response is to cancel your lesson entirely and reteach your expectations—as well as the applicable rule.
Because, either you weren’t clear and detailed enough when you first taught and modeled how you want them to behave during lessons or you haven’t been consistently holding them accountable.
So, along with reteaching what is expected, you must recommit yourself to following your plan as it’s written. Otherwise, interruptions will be an every lesson occurrence.
It’s important to note that it’s either/or nearly 100% of the time.
In other words, because of the dynamics of classroom management and student behavior, it’s typically either just a small few who are talking or it’s most of the class.
We’ll be sure to unpack why this is true in a future article. In the meantime, just know that if it’s just a few, it’s on them, and accountability is your answer.
More than a few, however, is on you, and a sign you must reteach and recommit.
If you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving new-article updates in your email box every week.