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Using the Opportunity of Class Silence to Build Relationship

Professors can use awkward silence to better equip students with more social skills

Students often settle into class with a phone in their hand, letting the awkward silence continue until the professor breaks it. Due to this, students communicate with each other less and less. As a result, students are not building necessary relationships with one another. Going into the real world, students lack the necessary communication and networking skills that would benefit them personally and professionally. Moving forward, professors can take this opportunity of awkward silence to better equip students with more social skills. This article suggests solutions for professors to do so; no tech (phones & laptops) should be used at the beginning of class in order to stimulate conversation, playing music at the start of class to establish connections over mutual music taste, and generating opportunities within the classroom for interaction.

Establishing boundaries with tech in the classroom

Setting boundaries for digital use is one way to improve student engagement. Oftentimes, professors enter their classroom with a room full of students glued to their phones. This leads to students communicating less and less with one another. As a result, students are not building necessary relationships with one another. One solution is to establish boundaries with technology to increase student engagement. A boundary to be put in place by the professor would be to enforce no digital use for the first five minutes of class. Instead, the first five minutes of class should instead be utilized for class engagement. Professors and students can take this time to engage with others, as well as ask and clarify any questions about the class.

Starting class with music

Background music in class has the ability to calm students and create a positive and receptive mood while ending the usual awkward silence. Music at the start of class has shown plenty of benefits, yet we do not see enough professors utilizing this simple method. Playing music in the classroom has been shown to de-stress students, “create a positive affective, learning receptive mood” and establish different types of connections between the professor and their students.

Generate opportunities for students

Colleges and professors should create opportunities for students to interact and network with others, which can help improve their lack of social skills. Although developing social skills may be challenging, the college community and professors are there to encourage you through interaction. With guided conversation and icebreakers, professors can provide students with opportunities to interact with one another in the classroom. It is a fantastic opportunity to network and get to know your peers.

Building engagement and peer-to-peer connections within the college classroom will always be more interesting than the awkward silence at the beginning of a class. There are many techniques to help engage students. In this article I discussed 3 different solutions: establishing boundaries with tech in the classroom, starting class with music, and generating opportunities for students. These three solutions are unlike traditional classroom engagement, where professors expect the students to reach out. Instead, the professor is giving their students a stepping stool to social success.