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An Extremely Important “Take” On “Wait Time” — One That I Hadn’t Thought About Before….


“Wait time” is commonly referred to as the time between a teacher asking a question and calling on a student to answer it. It’s an important, and often overlooked, element of classroom interaction.

Here’s what I wrote about it in one of my books (minus the footnotes):

The average time between a teacher posing a question and a student giving the answer in a typical classroom is about one second.. Multiple studies have shown that the quality and quantity of student responses increases when the wait time is increased to between three and seven seconds. There may very well be times when that time should be extended further for individual students. For example, a teacher could pose a question to a student and say that he will return in a minute and expect an answer.

Today, Alfie Kohn sent out a tweet offering a “take” on “wait time” that I had never thought of before (and I’m embarrassed because of it):


Marilyn Watson is an educator who has written several books. Here’s a link for more info about her.

I think her observation is so important that I’ve highlighted it in the image below:


Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Great pt – never thought of it till now

  2. Wait time after a response also increases the chance that the speaker will elaborate on his/her response, clarify, justify, etc. Well worth the wait.

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