Give your students a pause button

Here’s a great, simple tip that offers a non-invasive way for your students to exercise a bit more control over the way a class proceeds. Early in the semester, tell your students that you never want to leave anyone behind, that it is important to you that students are able to keep up with your teaching. Work with the students to come up with a signal—maybe a hand raised, maybe tapping on a desk—that they can use when they want you to stop for a minute. A student might signal if she needs to catch up with her note-taking, or because she has questions about something you’ve said.

Essentially, this is an easy way to offer some control to the students. When we read, we often pause to make sense of the material. Sometimes we read a passage a second or third time. Why not offer your students something of the same control over course content? These time-outs encourage students to more actively process the material, and goes some way to ensure that they’re not just sitting there, passively receiving your words.  -DG

Source: "29. Give Your Students a Pause Button." Robert Magnan, ed. 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors. Madison: Atwood, 1990. 12.