The other day a 2nd grade JHS class got off to a rocky start. The students sat at their desks with confused looks or staring into oblivion as we teachers struggled to get even the slightest response to our questions.
Then suddenly my JTE said to the students, “Okay let’s restart the class. I’ll give you a one minute break. Talk with your friends, stretch — do whatever. But in one minute we will start the class again and I want you to answer our questions.”
It was like a miracle. The students had their break, and with the tension now gone from the room we were able to have a successful lesson.
I highly recommend this clever technique.