Two Recent Insights from Interviewees

Having spoken to a number of people who are involved in the education world in different ways, I picked up a few tips.

1) When a room is noisy, it doesn't mean that the learners aren't learning.

Having learned about the different strengths that different people have, I know that some people learn best by asking questions and having discussions. This sometimes functions like a sounding board and helps to organise thoughts and ideas.

However, there are teachers who insist on a completely silent room when they are teaching and any sound is immediately quelled. This is sometimes necessary, especially when instructions for an activity or practice is being given.

A quiet environment is also more conducive for many learners to absorb information. That said, not all noise is equal. If learners are legitimately discussing the session at hand, it may be useful to give everybody a few moments to have a talk-through before getting back to the teaching.

2) When a question is asked, don't immediately answer it yourself.

3 seconds of silence may feel like an eternity when you are waiting for a reply but it is often insufficient time for a learner to come up with an answer if it is a new topic or a complex question.

Give learners time to formulate answers. Tell them to discuss with a partner and come back to the question after a minute or so.

If it is something that you are expecting them to already know, it is possible that the way you asked or phrased the question is causing some uncertainty or confusion - something that can be discussed in a future post.

When you are about to call on somebody to answer a question, ask the question before calling the name of the person. That way, everybody pays attention longer because they wonder if they will be called upon.

If your learners know that you are in the habit of answering your own questions, they often stop bothering to answer you. That is an immediate loss of an opportunity for rapport building. Not good.