The other day I was reading through Professional Speaking (our OCT magazine). I came across a little piece on wait time and it reminded me of a situation and comment from a colleague last year. I was a model classroom for a combined grade social studies lesson. While I was teaching my lesson, I utilized my wait time with the students throughout my lesson. Upon completion of the lesson, during our debrief session, the Instructional Leader highlighted my wait time. Which developed a fantastic discussion amongst the teachers. Some of the comments were about how long I waited, thought no one was going to answer, how quiet the room was, how proud and surprised many colleagues were about the rich classroom discussion developed due to enough wait time.
Wait time is something which is very important. The first few students who are ready to answer the questions are the students who may not need wait time and are ready to answer most questions. However, by using wait time we allow many students (if not all) an opportunity to process the question and gather information to answer the question. We also know that most students are ready to move on in the lesson and are not left behind still thinking about the question or answer.
A strategy I use to help keep the students focused is I asked the question a second time, the third time I will rephrase the question. Also, sometimes I may need to help activate the prior learning by using some guided questions. Every year I use wait time. Some years I have to wait longer than others but all my students know they need to be engaged and paying attention to the lesson and classroom discussions.