How much time do you spend shushing twenty-four children while one child speaks?

Do you find yourself frequently shushing twenty-four children while one child speaks? 

It is true that children need to learn to listen as well as talk. It is true that patience is a virtue. It is true that we need to teach our children to be polite and wait their turn. It is true that sometimes (but not always!) it’s worth everyone listening to what one person says.


Have you added up the number of minutes in a day, a week, a year, that all except one child in your class are passively waiting their turn, while one child at a time (or the teacher!) talks? 

Have you considered the possibility that every idea does not have to go via the teacher?

Instead of every child getting a turn to share their idea while the whole class listens, would any of the following work?

  • Turn and talk to a partner.
  • Discuss in a group – Share only one thing that surprised you or one thing that was controversial.
  • Write your thoughts on a sticky note and post it up for everyone to read.
  • Share your thinking in a back channel like Todays Meet.
  • Write on big poster sheets then move around and read others’ responses.
  • A Chalk Walk, or a Carousel.
  • Collaborate on a google doc.
  • Use virtual sticky notes to post your thoughts in Linoit or Padlet or respond in Answer Garden.


  • More efficient use of learning time.
  • Active and social learning.
  • Increased student ownership.
  • Practising a range of skills in addition to listening (and waiting) – speaking, reading, writing, thinking, collaboration, cooperation, tech skills.

#1 in a series on making small changes

What other ideas can you add to the list above?

** Would you like to contribute a post to the series on making small changes? Something we all tend to do or you have observed in classrooms? Ideas of simple ways to do it differently? 



6 thoughts on “How much time do you spend shushing twenty-four children while one child speaks?

  1. This is a great theme, Edna. It’s challenging to “break old habits” and teach in new and better ways. Have you written several posts in this series. All in all this would make a nice short book.


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