The Waiting Game

I’ve read and written a fair bit lately about Student Engagement. Being easily seduced by simplicity, I was determined to distil the volume of information about this subject down to something accessible and practical for educators.

And so, my definition of engagement is just four visible pursuits. It’s students who are:
Listening
Speaking
Thinking
Doing
… for the highest proportion of time.

Now, let’s think about times in our lives when we are deprived of participating in these pursuits.  A doctor’s Waiting Room is a decent example.  I mean, who designs a geographical location for the purpose of doing absolutely nothing in it anyway?  But I digress.

As you walk into that Waiting Room and survey the broken television and the tattered copies of New Idea from 1995 we quickly count the unfathomable number of people ahead of us in the consultancy queue.

How long is it until you touch your phone?

You see, waiting creates a behavioural void that we are compelled to fill with the first available device.

And so it is with our students.  The longer they wait for their turn, for their chance to come off the bench and participate or, dare I say it, for us to stop talking so they can demonstrate their skills, the more we deepen their behavioural void.

They’ll fill that void and it’s unlikely to be with the behaviours we’d like.

Just perhaps, the most critical thing we Teachers can do to enhance student engagement is just shut up for a bit?