Teachers are often under pressure to move on in a lesson

…so waiting a long time for students to respond can be challenging.

Our materials are designed to support students to develop their own strategies and explanations, which they can share in the classroom. Thinking takes time and formulating ideas as speech is difficult. Research by Mary Rowe back in 1972 tells us that teachers rarely wait more than a second before they move on.  Try timing yourself! Rowe found that extending wait time to betweeen three and five seconds makes a big difference to how students respond.  Students’ responses are longer, they are more confident and willing to speculate, they ask more questions and lower attainers say more.

Re-watch the video of the RME lesson and notice how the teacher uses extended wait times in many places. You might be surprised by how supportive the students are of a long wait-time. These periods of wait-time not only give students space to think – they also give a teacher time to think.  What is the crux of the difficulty we are having? What should my next move be?

Sometimes students find it hard to respond, even when you wait.  In the video, the teacher also asks a student to ask a question which might help them – this is one way of helping them to begin speaking.



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