The Long 15 Seconds

I often hear teachers and parents ask their wards questions, only to make them into hypothetical questions by providing the answer moments later.

I’m a firm believer in the long 15 seconds of silence.

It can feel painfully long as a student stares back at you. (Often, they’re waiting for me to answer myself, proving how often that happens.) But learning happens in those precious seconds. It takes that discomfort, sometimes, to get neurons to fire in creative ways, to get the answers to reveal themselves.

Almost a decade ago, I taught in a very regimented tutoring system that demanded I actually count in my head after asking questions. And guess what – that actually works. Forcing yourself to count, at least at first, will remind you not to chime in too soon.

To see a student’s face go from confusion to understanding in fifteen seconds is a beautiful thing. Don’t deprive yourself (or your students) of that joy. Wait the long 15 seconds.