By Teachers, For Teachers
Class time is precious, and every second that is wasted by interruptions or disciplining a student is time that should be spent on student learning. Every year, it may seem like there is more and more on your plate and less time to do it in. This is probably because of the ever-changing curriculum, the demands of classroom management, and standardized testing. Luckily, with a little juggling, classroom management, and planning, you can maximize your class time and create more time for instruction. Here’s how.
As a teacher, you’ve probably created a routine for just about everything. While routines are a necessary part of the school day, they all don’t have to be. Take a closer look at how much time each routine is taking to complete. If you’re spending 10 minutes having students write down their homework and another 10 minutes taking attendance, you can easily gain 20 extra minutes of instruction time by simply eliminating these routines. All you have to do to gain those ten minutes back is have students write down their homework at the same time as they are packing up to leave. As for taking attendance, all you have to do is create an attendance chart, where the students fill it in versus taking the time to do it yourself. With a few simple tweaks, you can streamline your routines, and eliminate the unnecessary ones, to create more instruction time.
Elementary school teachers utilize a lot of time (sometimes up to 15 minutes at a time) with bathroom breaks. We all know that students have to use the bathroom during the day, and if you factor in two classroom bathroom breaks a day, that could mean an extra 30 minutes of instructional time lost. If you’re one of the lucky classrooms that has a bathroom in it, then you’ll find gaining these extra minutes will be a piece of cake. All you have to do is create a procedure where students get up and go to the bathroom quietly on their own. However, if you don’t have a bathroom in your classroom, then you’ll have to try and create the same procedure for students to go on their own outside of the classroom. You’ll need to point out that going to the bathroom on their own is a privilege and it can get revoked at any time. If they abuse your bathroom policy, then they’ll have deal with the consequences.
Many traditional classrooms teach their content in the classroom, then have students review that content for homework. However, in a flipped classroom, the students learn at home and come to school to do a follow-up activity. Try videotaping a short lesson for students to watch at home and then use class time (which you’ll now have more of) to really dive into the lesson and practice what they’ve just learned. These short mini-lessons that you create on video can be used over and over for years to come. So not only are you able to gain more classroom time using this method, but you’ve also just gained a few more lesson plans to add to your repertoire.
There’s nothing like sitting through 20 different class presentations to make you feel like your day is dragging on. If you’re looking for another way to gain more class time for instruction, then try and group students together for as many lessons and activities as you can. Not only will it benefit you (give you more class time), but it will also benefit the students. As you may already know, collaborative learning has many benefits, such as developing students’ oral communications skills, higher-level thinking skills, and increased retention, to name a few. Try having students learn together in a condensed amount of time so they can reap all of the wonderful benefits.
Lastly, stop waiting for students to all finish before going on to something different. When you do this, you are wasting a lot of time. Try setting a timer to an average amount of time that the students should all be able to complete the assignment in. This will not only save you time, but it will force the students to think a little quicker. Make sure that you tell students that it’s OK if they are still working when the timer goes off, because you don’t want any child feeling anxious to rush. However, you will find that the majority of the students will have the assignment done by the time the timer goes off.
Creating more instruction time means that students will spend more time learning and less time doing things that are unnecessary. Eliminate pointless routines, streamline bathroom breaks, try the flipped classroom method, allow students to work together and stop waiting for students. Once you do these things, you’ll see a lot more time has opened up for instruction and learning.
Do you have any classroom management tips or tricks to create more instruction time in class? Please feel free to share what works for you in the comment section below, we’d love to hear what you do in your classroom.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.