Jamie Thom

Silence can be golden in the classroom

Teachers intent on creating a dynamic atmosphere may be wary of calling for quiet, but sometimes this can be vital for helping pupils to develop their powers of concentration, writes English teacher and author Jamie Thom

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At the start of my teaching career, I felt that silence in the classroom was draconian, merely a symbol of punishment and a vehicle to demonstrate anger. I favoured collaboration at every stage; I wanted my classroom to be a hub of lively and loud communication.

But I changed my ways.

The spark was that my Year 11 students faced eight hours and 30 minutes of writing in silence for their English examinations. I realised that I had to make some drastic changes to my practice to help them prepare. However, I also realised that concentration, focus and the ability to think without interruption ...

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