Verbal (external) Processors in the Classroom Bursting Barriers in Education

“Verbal processors speak to clarify thoughts. Non-verbal processors think before they speak.”             holtfan

Each person has an individualized way of synthesizing learning.  How people process information can categorize a person as an internal (non-verbal) or an external (verbal) processor.  Internal processors tend to get quiet and think through decisions in their head while external processors talk through the learning process.  Here are ways to identify and support verbal processors in the classroom.   


Supportive Teacher Response


talk a LOT in class 

gain a better understanding by talking through ideas  

may present as rambling, random thoughts

need to verbalize to comprehend and synthesize information

need the option to talk through content, especially on assessments

Allow work completion in an alternate setting

tests taken in alternate setting

struggle to keep thoughts and feelings to themselves 

may say whatever pops into their heads 

need access to a good listener who they can trust to not be judgmental or critical

plan for where, when, and how verbal processors can access active listener

break card for when need to verbalize

often come to own conclusion while verbalizing a question in class 

other students most likely have the same question, so call on verbal processors often

wait time for verbal processing of information

may get frustrated when cannot talk through what is on their mind

acknowledge hand raising promptly. 

“Johnny, I will finish the instructions, then you can ask your question.” 

 will alleviate anxiety about when  able to verbalize.

preferential seating -near positive peer role models, close to teacher

easily frustrated by people trying to offer solutions while they are talking through a problem

interrupting or talking over a student who is verbalizing will result in a lack of trust     

need to be able to express the emotion before the presenting behavior is corrected 

address behavior after listening to student

Shoot for 5 positives for every  negative when giving feedback

break card with designated break area for when need to verbalize

check in/check out for behavioral monitoring

positive behavioral supports to introduce and reinforce positive behavioral expectations 

often do not realize how they feel about something until they verbalize it

Ask thoughtful questions instead of offering a quick fix

give time to verbally process during decision-making

may be seen talking out loud to no one in particular

write or record their thoughts on voice to text mechanism, post-its or pad of paper, voice recorder...  

helps to talk through the issue and get the ideas out of head 

allow technology for writing assignments

allow voice to text for assignments/assessments

may not seem like they are making sense 

may jump from one thread to another in conversation 

may ask “Does that make sense?” a lot

look for patterns while listening: positive, negative, emotional, self-reflection, linear, visual….

can be coached on how to advocate for themselves  

remind staff and students not at final thoughts yet, processing through ideas

may express frustration when decision-making is slow  

like to have a plan

group with quick decision-makers whenever possible

forewarn for changes in schedule

give alternative for when decision-making is slow

Possess strong verbal communication skills

great at brainstorming and should be given this option whenever possible

voice and choice in assignments and assessments to showcase verbal skills

Websites:  More information about verbal processors:,thoughts%20and%20feelings%20out%20loud.

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