Wait time is one of the most vital supports we can give a child (or an adult). I’ve written about it numerous times on this blog. While it doesn’t involve any extra supports, gadgets, or tools, it is still recognizably hard to do. We, as teachers and parents, aren’t good at waiting.
We aren’t good at providing enough in-person waiting time. Now that we are doing most of our work on-line, wait time is even more complicated. Not only do we need to wait to provide our students with the same processing time they need to respond in our in-person work, now we also have to account for a computer delay, the time it may take a child to unmute or speak into the computer, or to process the additional virtual and auditory information coming from the computer screen while shutting out the in-person visual/auditory information coming from real life.
AND, to make it worse, when we are waiting on a computer, we cannot read our children’s body language. We can’t see the wheels turning like we could if they were with us in person. And so, we can easily find ourselves not providing the right amount of wait time needed. At least, maybe that’s me. Every week gets a little easier as we adjust to the new normal and learn the social patterns of zoom.
Wait time is even more important right now as our kids seek to be seen and heard by those helping them. With a scary virus outside the doors and a sudden change of routine inside, it is important for all of our kids – even the ones who have difficulty easily finding their words – to know that we are listening to them. Listening, understanding, and waiting on their ideas and thoughts because their ideas and thoughts are important and valuable too.
These virtual connections aren’t easy, and it’s good to remind ourselves to slow down. The pace of our interactions with children or the number of words a child produces during a session is not nearly as valuable as simply giving the child the space to be seen and heard.