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Wait for it…..wait for it…….

Did you know that the average time a teacher waits for a response from students after posing a question is 1 second??????

Consider that for a moment. The teacher asks a whole classroom of students a question and waits only 1 second for a response before rephrasing a question or offering a prompt.  When one of my university professors shared this information with me I was dumbfounded. In fact I didn’t really believe that could be true and so I made note of response time myself while attending classes and you know, he was right!

I don’t think many students can come up with an intelligent answer to any question in 1 second! They would have to have incredible nuero- connectivity going on that is for sure!

In the music classroom I have tried to be aware of response wait time. In fact, I am at times so patient that parents begin to prompt their children…you’ve got it…after about 1 second. Many times I even hear parents giving their child the answer which really defeats the purpose of me asking the question in the first place.  My goal in asking questions is not to hear the correct response…I already know the right answer, it is to get the children thinking. If the adults in the room are quickly offering prompts or answers before the child even has a chance to process the question, soon the child will stop attending to the discussion at hand altogether.

Why pay attention or think about what is being said…mom/dad will give me the answer.

Let’s think about what happens when someone asks you a question. First you must hear the question, your brain must decipher the sounds and deduce the meaning of the words being said. Then you must form connections between what is being said and your own experiences, information you have gathered and things you have noticed in the past. Some of this information is from last week’s lesson or maybe a lesson from a month ago so you have to bypass lots of the information and experiences that you have gathered in the past that is not relevant to the question being asked. Next you have to put the info you do need into a meaningful response and then finally you can answer the question.  The process of answering a simple question is complicated!  Just imagine the process that must occur when the question is difficult!!

It is important that we allow students to think.

By allowing children 5-10 seconds we empower them with a chance to come up with answers on their own, fostering self-confidence and engaging them in the discusssion at hand.  10 seconds seems long when you are waiting for an answer in a classroom full of children and parents.  At times I can almost hear “the crickets” as I wait for a response, but I think that 10 seconds is a small price to pay if it means that my students will benefit.

This week in class, try to be aware of your wait time. Count to at least 5 before you offer your child any kind of help. Give them a chance to think about the question. Better yet, keep track of MY wait time. Let me know if I am too speedy to jump in after asking a question. Happy learning!

Making retrieval of information faster!

There are ways to help your child retrieve information faster, if you are finding wait time painful. : )

  • Bring a water bottle to class. Sipping water frequently aids in brain function as it provides the brain with oxygen.
  • Draw figure 8’s in the air or on paper, following the line with your eyes. Cross body movement helps to form stronger connections between our left and right hemispheres which makes information retrieval much faster.
  • Be well rested!
  • Have a healthy snack before class
  • Allow your child to answer questions on their own. When they realize that they need to do the thinking on their own, they will attend and be more likely to attempt an answer quickly.

Interested in other ways you can help optimize your child’s brain function?…or yours? Check out the following links.
Read about brain gym exercises that improve concentration and promote brain fitness http://igreen.tripod.com/gerpe/id29.html

Catch a Brain Wave fitness program that uses Brain Gym activities and the talent of Ronno to pomote fit minds and bodies http://www.kimboed.com/catchabrainwavefitnessfun.aspx

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