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Teaching Strategies: Making the Most of Free Time

Janelle Cox

What do you do with your students when you have a few minutes to spare? Do you make students do homework? Play a game? Or silently read a book? There are many ways that you can fill your free time in the classroom, but are you using this time to your advantage? Depending upon what you need to get done that day, you should be maximizing your free time in the most constructive way. Here are a few teaching strategies to help you make the most of your free time.

Teaching Strategies that Maximize Your Free Time

The first step to making the most of your free time is to make sure that you’re maximizing every second that you have. Think about what needs to get done or what your students need depending upon the time of day, as well as how they’re acting and what they’re feeling. Do your students have to finish a project or make up a test? Are your students tired or restless? Your job is to make an immediate decision based on the time that you have, as well as what needs to get done. If you have 15 minutes to spare at the end of the day, then you can make the most of your free time by allowing your students time to finish their projects or tests while the other students can quietly work on home work, silently read or play a board game. If you only have five minutes to spare and you see that your students are restless, then use this time for a brain break to get their bodies and minds refocused. Remember, your goal is to use this time wisely.

Have a Class Meeting

The wonderful thing about free time is that you can do whatever you want during it. If you’re looking to build a stronger classroom community, then using this time to have a classroom meeting and connect with your students is the way to go. Classroom meetings don’t just have to take place in the morning (morning meeting). You can use your free time, whether it be five minutes or 15 minutes to help build a stronger bond within your classroom. Have students sit in a circle and allow them time to vent about anything they want. They can talk about their classroom pet peeves, bullying, the field trip they just went on, anything they want. The more opportunities that you give your students to connect with one another, the better your classroom will run as a whole.

Let Loose

When you think of making the most of your free time you probably aren’t thinking of using this time to have your students let loose. But, if you notice that the majority of the students are tired, miserable, or bored, then they may need a pick-me-up. Take the few minutes that you have to let students dance, sing, or play a game. If your type of letting loose is to do something active, but quiet, then have the students actively mediate by doing some yoga poses or stretches. Anything to get your students moving when they need it is making the most of your free time.

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Get Caught Up on Work

Many teachers like to use the few minutes they have to spare for catching up on any work their students may have to do. If your lesson finished early and you notice you have ten minutes before lunchtime, then you can maximize this time by having students get caught up on any work they may have. One of the best ways to utilize your time is to have a premade bulletin board set up with a list of what needs to be done by every student in the order it should be completed in. This way, when you have those few minutes to spare, all you have to say is, “Check the board and complete your list” instead of going through a laundry list of what needs to be completed.

Utilize Technology

One of the most fun ways that you can make the most of your free time is to have your students review what they’re learning through technology. iPads and computer games are a great way for students to have fun while reviewing what they’ve just learned. If you’re lucky enough to have a class set of tablets or laptops, then when you have a few minutes to spare all you have to say is, “Take out your tablets and play a review game.”

Make the most of your free time by first assessing your students and what needs to be done. Then once you know, you can plan accordingly.

How do you maximize your free time when you have a few minutes to spare? Please share your teaching strategies with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear what you have to say.


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