Are you using silence before teaching? Here is why you should be…

This BLOG is suitable for:
– anyone working in education supporting learning
– parents that support their child with homework/reading etc

You don’t need me to tell you how busy life is. School life is tremendously busy with a relentless amount of curriculum objectives covered in one day. Think of a school day and its lessons as ‘hamster wheels’ of learning – lots of wheels (one for each lesson if you like) and running between them without a pause or break for reflection or settling before getting on the next one. Busy, fast-paced learning about lots of things.

Children are expected to learn an incredible amount during a school day and to show progress against each learning objective. Teachers and staff have so much curriculum to cover that there is little option to deliver at a calmer, slower pace. No time to spare. Too much to do. Lots to cover.

Currently, there is very little emphasis placed on the emotional state and mental activity that children (and staff) bring to the learning session.

This mental activity for a child might be:
– thoughts about what’s already occurred (previous learning, playtime issues or fun, conversations with friends or family or colleagues)
– thoughts about the ability to do the learning (beliefs around how good they may or not be at this learning)
– thoughts about how the lesson is going to go (expectations of the lesson – based on beliefs, opinions and judgements)
– thoughts about entirely unrelated topics

Emotional states of a child may present as:
– a mood
– an attitude
– body language
– spoken language
– a feeling (tense, relaxed, calm, nervous, wound-up, headache)

And what tends to happen is that we bring all of that ‘activity’ to our learning which undoubtedly affects learning potential. You know yourself how hard it is to concentrate when your mind is on other things.

So what do we do?

Start with a break. A pause. A rest. Start with silence.

Silence, stillness and a stop give us a chance to settle, calm and observe what emotions and thoughts are being brought to the learning table. Swirling a glitter jar and waiting for the glitter to settle is a simple and very effective way of demonstrating this. See video at 2:03 mins.

You can choose to add some open-ended questions or guiding statements during your silence such as:
– “What mood is experienced as we start this session?”
– “Any tension we can release in the body?”
– “Let’s come out of our thinking mind and focus on sounds or our breathing for a moment.”

Mindful school role-models (yes you if you’re watching/reading/listening this) will use this silent pause as an opportunity to reset themselves and be open and honest about what they need before teaching. For example, “I’ve recognised I’m feeling rushed so I’m just going to have a few breaths and settle myself before beginning. I’ll teach better I’m sure if I take this time. Please feel free to join me.”

The power of silence is vastly under-used in schools as a tool for self-observation and reflection. Perhaps because educators are habitually trained to deliver at 100mph, 100% of the time. Effective learning (and teaching) takes account of all children’s needs at that moment – and what better way to get to know those needs than empowering your child to know themselves with the gift of silence.


If you are interested in how I provide mental and emotional wellbeing transformation in schools, then get in touch I offer school membership, courses and training.


Consider silence as a superpower for learning.

Are you using silence before teaching? ~ listen here

by Jo Bradley

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