Ever called on a student and she didn’t know the answer? There’s that awkward few seconds when you and all the other students are waiting for a response and she just can’t find the words.
When a student doesn’t know the answer, the last thing you want is to have her feel embarrassed or humiliated. Even if she “should know” the answer, you’ve gotta give ’em an out.
The next time a student is struggling to answer, try:
- “Do you want to call on someone else for help?” and let them choose a peer to answer the question.
- “I’ll give you another couple minutes and come back to you” and really give them the time and circle back later to ensure they understand.
- “It’s OK to say ‘I’m not sure.'” and allow them to say they don’t know.
This kind of approach helps preserve students’ dignity in the classroom. Embarrassed students do not regularly volunteer to participate. Send the message to the whole class that it’s safe to try, and you’ll get much more participation.