02 June 2008

Reflections on the Year: Speaking and Silence

One of the most surprising lessons I’ve learned this school year is the importance of silence in teaching and learning. This year and in years past, I’ve practiced a “talking out” process to help students find answers and think things through. I’ve found that this process can be very helpful, especially when students are learning new concepts or procedures. It is also helpful when students are forming ideas and pre-writing. But when students are internalizing concepts and procedures, my silence – and the resulting silence of the student – can help far more than discussion.

I’m no educational psychologist, but I believe that well-timed silence has resulted in a better classroom. In fact, the more balance that I have between classroom (or one-on-one) discussion time and structured quiet time, the more engaged the students are and the more that they learn. This is because they have the luxury, in silence, of absorbing what’s being taught.

The interesting thing for me is that I have been, to a great extent, the limiting factor in creating quiet time. I realized that I tend to get bored. I also find it fascinating to talk with students about what they’re learning and what they know. Normally, boredom combined with a desire to understand is a good thing, but not necessarily when it’s the teacher.

1 comment:

kmb said...

very interesting and i think you've hit on something here. especially in the day and age of instaneous communication and the unceasing barrage of information, silence is just the thing i would think students WOULD need in order to be able to process things. good for you for integrating such a fundamentally simple concept into your classroom. i have always thought you must be an excellent teacher, and this confirms my suspicions. :)