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Tutor Tip of the Month

Pacing your Lesson

When we set our clocks forward in the spring, it seems like we give ourselves the gift of an hour of daylight in the evening. Of course, the day isn’t really longer, but it feels that way to some of us. You can give your student a wonderful gift by treating time a little bit differently.

Many of our students were not the ones raising their hands in school to answer questions. They may have needed a little bit more than the average length of time to process both a question and its answer. When you allow that time, your lesson may seem to have more daylight.

Most teachers wait less than a second for an answer to a question. What happens if you wait for three seconds? Five seconds? Longer? Maybe some of these things will happen:

  • Your student will feel less rushed, and more confident, when he gives his answer.
  • His answers will be more thoughtful – especially as he comes to expect the "extra" time.
  • He will make comments that you didn’t expect – and they will help you to understand how he processes information.

With a "wrong" answer, take time to explore why the answer was given. The results may surprise you.

Maybe your student’s thinking is sound, but she’s operating with a wrong premise that you won’t discover if you simply shake your head "No." Maybe she’s just plain right from a different point of view.
Even though you feel pressed to get in as much teaching as you can during your precious hour and a half, make a conscious effort to have each lesson be calm and comfortably paced.

Ideas for this "Tip" came from newsletters from the Woodland Literacy Council and from the Second Start Adult Literacy Program in Oakland.

May 2001 Tutor Tip

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