Hold Please...

The Impact of Wait/Think Time on Student Learning

"Anyone, anyone" teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Anyone? Anyone?

Our poor, infamous, teacher friend has gotten his fair share of ridicule since the debut of Ferris Bueller's Day Off in 1986. We have ALL had this teacher, know this teacher or perhaps felt like this teacher at some point in our lives. It is tempting to just fast forward, get more popcorn, or check Facebook while he lectures his less-than-engaged fictional students. But as this classic movie played in the background of my Saturday, I realized that my teaching has often been characterized by the same small misstep that could have made this lesson something worth Bueller's attendance: WAIT TIME!


We all know that Wait/Think time is necessary for ALL students to formulate thoughts and process information. In fact this strategy was first published by Mary Budd Rowe in 1972, meaning that Mr. Rooney (if he were paying more attention to instruction) could have offered a workshop for his teachers on the topic!

Benefits: For Teachers and Students

In an article published by the US Department of Education in 1984, Robert J. Stahl lists the following benefits for students of just THREE SECONDS of wait time added to instructional practice:


  • The length and correctness of their responses increase.
  • The number of their "I don't know" and no answer responses decreases.
  • The number of volunteered, appropriate answers by larger numbers of students greatly increases.
  • The scores of students on academic achievement tests tend to increase.



When teachers wait patiently in silence for 3 or more seconds at appropriate places, positive changes in their own teacher behaviors also occur:


  • Their questioning strategies tend to be more varied and flexible.
  • They decrease the quantity and increase the quality and variety of their questions.
  • They ask additional questions that require more complex information processing and higher-level thinking on the part of students.
Using "Think-Time" and "Wait-Time" Skillfully

Information processing involves multiple cognitive tasks that take time. Students must have uninterrupted periods of time to process information; reflect on what has been said, observed, or done; and consider what their personal responses will be.

A Shift In Our Thinking

As we shift from planning for teaching to planning for learning, WAIT/THINK time is a consideration that is essential to moving the rigor level in our classrooms. When we look at the Rigor Rubric there are multiple places were we know moving students towards "exceeds" will require time for STUDENT thought. We will need to budget time for them to "reflect and revise", "extend and refine knowledge automatically", and "routinely use higher order thinking skills".


The videos and resources below are a great starting point to refining this skill and improving the wait/think time for your students.

Strategies You Can USE!

EA.WaitTime.Johnson.'Focus on why.'Clip2017
Teach Like a Champion: Stretch It & Wait Time

Video and Deconstruction of the Strategies she uses!

Wait Time Cheat Sheet

There are several steps necessary to teach and remind your students to use their Wait Time effectively. Charlie Friedman, principal of Nashville Classical Charter School, created a Wait Time Cheat Sheet to help make Wait Time transparent.

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Maybe a little less mischievously...but with the same level of expectation!

Ashley Helms, Professional Learning & Advanced Academics

Please let us know if there is ANY way that we can support you, if there is further learning we can facilitate, or resources we can provide! #loboslearn