Series Coaching Towards Collaborative Learning : Making Learning Public Through Teacher Time-outs

Making Learning Public Through Teacher Time-outs

Lesson Objective: Pause and discuss instruction with colleagues
All Grades / All Subjects / Professional Learning


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. What are the benefits of discussing instruction in the moment?
  2. How can you make sure both the students and the teachers are comfortable with the time-outs?
  3. How could you use this practice in your own learning communities?


  • Private message to Aundrea Gamble

1. What are the benefits of discussing instruction in the moment?

One benefit from discussing instruction in the moment is the immediate feedback you get back. While also discussing instruction in the moment you are able to hear the kids questions that they may be struggling with during the lesson.

2. How can you make sure both students and the teachers are comfortable with time-outs?

You can make sure that the teachers understand the importance of time-outs and lead by example to their students. You also want to value every student and teachers voice and encourage them to speak up and give feedback during time-outs. 

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  • Private message to Joseph Espinosa

For those interested in learning a lot more about learning labs provides a lot of support with a complete overview, norms, and a additional supports for structures such as the leading rehearsals and Teacher Time Outs at these links:





In my own experience with using these tools and the learning lab structure for collaborative inquiry I've found that a whole day is ideal because of the opportunity to also engage in a reading around standards, teaching moves, or the activity itself, rehearsal of the planned activity before going into the classroom together and in planning next steps (follow-up problems or number sense and reasoning routines) after debrief of the co-teaching in a classroom. In reading about learning labs in NCSM's magazine and other resources a half day is sufficient but in general more rushed. That has been my experience as well. The learning lab structure itself grew out of the work of the LTP Project research and additional work the University of Washington did with schools in the urban Seattle area. 

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  • Private message to Adriana Valenzuela-Banuelos
This is a great strategy to learn how to change a lesson and better improve the lesson. It is a great way for teachers to receive feedback from other teachers as the lesson is happening. The timeout can help the teachers hear what other students are saying while still having the lesson happen.
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  • Private message to Ayda Patricia Segura
I think the best way to become a better teacher is the collaborative work, this type of strategy seems to work great. On one hand, the advantage for the lead teacher to get as many input from teachers present as possible, on the other students see themselves as part of a community no only a classroom.
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  • Private message to Kristin Gray
I agree Jolene and Mikayla! It is such an incredibly valuable process for teachers and students alike! Opening up ourselves as learners is a vulnerable place to be and I think it is so nice for students to see us in that same place we ask them to be every day!
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  • Making Learning Public Through Teacher Time-outs Transcript

    Teacher: Today we have a dot image. How many dots do you see and

    Making Learning Public Through Teacher Time-outs Transcript

    Teacher: Today we have a dot image. How many dots do you see and how do you see them?
    Teacher: As a coach when I go into classrooms, I like to use what's called Teacher Timeouts.
    Teacher: I was just wondering if we could do something with what's already circled?
    Teacher: It's a really unique way of pausing instruction in the moment.
    Teacher: Like that?
    Teacher: And having teachers interact, to truly make learning public.
    All of the 3rd grade teachers are joining today to hear the great mathematical thinking so we can leave and think about it even more and learn from what you know.
    Teacher Timeout was coined by a math coach at Lakeridge in Washington State named Theresa Lent.
    Student: There was two columns so I had to do 4 times 2.
    Teacher: What happens during a teacher timeout is the lead teacher or another adult in the room can pause instruction in the moment and either ask a question or have a wondering about the structure of what's happening.
    Teacher: I'm wondering if there's another way to write that as a multiplication equation, just show your thinking.
    Teacher: Is there a place we want to change our recording or is there a question we're wondering that would change the course of this activity itself.
    Teacher: I heard her say that she's saw it in columns of 4 which isn't what the other student [could 00:01:24]. Could you show what she did? Does that change the amount in each group or is it just looking at it a different way?
    Student: It's just looking at it a different way.
    Teacher: I'm wondering after you have that part circled in columns, if maybe we can do a turn and talk.
    Teacher: Turn and talk to somebody close to you. Tell them what you think about what Katie did.
    Student: She just had 4 in each column and she didn't get a different answer.
    Teacher: Sometimes the teachers in the audience may hear the students next to them say something they think may be interesting so they will also call a teacher timeout and ask the lead teacher to maybe have the student revoice.
    Teacher: She said she saw within that group was 4.
    Teacher: It's a really nice time to not feel like we're in this rush to get to the end where we can actually take the time during the lesson and pause everything.
    Teacher: You may see us do what's called a Timeout where one of us-
    Teacher: I think it's important for me to introduce it to the students so they know what's happening and also for the teachers just to have a sense of calm about what's going to happen during the lesson.
    Teacher: Andrea, since you chose to lead the lesson, I think this would be the time too that we want to really make clear anything we want to be looking for.
    Teacher: I guess for one of the timeouts, if you're seeing a place where your hearing something that I'm not hearing as far as this would be a good time to turn and talk. That would be helpful to me.
    Teacher: Would you like to call the first time out? Do you care about when anybody does it?
    Teacher: I don't care at all.
    Teacher: Okay.
    Teacher: No. I might call some.
    Teacher: Do we need any type of signal or are you good with just talking.
    Teacher: Talking is fine.
    Teacher: Talking.
    Student: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10
    Teacher: Looks like you're going right down.
    Student: Yeah like that.
    Teacher: We're there to listen to what students are thinking. See how our planning pans out so it's not evaluative.
    Teacher: I wonder if he kept doing that all the way down the next ... where I use that to help him with the next one. [Jaylene 00:03:12], what did you do with that?
    Teacher: This is the first year that we've done the Teacher Timeouts so we were really curious about how students would interact with all the teachers being in the room and then stopping and talking without involving them in the conversation.
    Teacher: She still had that-
    Teacher: I think they're more aware that there's people in the room but I don't think the interaction between the people affects that lesson rolling right on.
    Student: Since we have so much equations that equal 32, I think that it's probably not 24.
    Teacher: I think yeah we can safely say it's 32.
    Teacher: It's a good place for your journal because he just pointed out that there's so many different equations that make 32. Maybe they could think about that.
    Teacher: All right, so here's what I'm thinking.
    Teacher: Typically when we reflect on things, it happens afterwards. We watch a lesson, we come back after, and we talk about what happened but something that we could talk about what happened, we could have done in the moment to change it and we could've seen if that would have worked.
    Teacher: I want you to think about maybe some other equations and why they might be related.
    Student: Well, I just counted the first one and-
    Teacher: Your kids probably feel special and valued that we're going take what they did-
    Teacher: That was one of my favorite moments, I think was when you guys came into my room and they were everybody's kids. I loved that idea that it doesn't really ... your class isn't [inaudible 00:04:24], it's all of them and they all matter like that.
    Teacher: It's a really unique way of making our learning public and highlighting those important teacher moves that we have that sometimes we don't recognize because we're so caught in the moment of what the students are saying. It's really nice to have those outside sets of eyes, helping us along the way.

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School Details

Shields (Richard A.) Elementary School
910 Shields Avenue
Lewes DE 19958
Population: 560

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Kristin Gray