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Efficient Use of Class Time

Updated on October 3, 2012

Maximize learning in the classroom

Classrooms of the Berlin Metropolitan School
Classrooms of the Berlin Metropolitan School | Source

It is most important to maximize instructional time

An effective teacher learns how to best use all of the class time for learning. It is so easy to loose a lot of time to distractions. Distractions can be anything from student behavior to administrators interupting for paperwork. A reflective teacher should look back on each day at what worked and what did not work in order to better use class time.

1.Creating and implementing effective procedures and routines is the first step. Training students to move quickly and efficiently will make it easier to transition through the day. If small group or one on one time is needed to be spent with a few struggling students, well then the routine for the whole class should be set so that no student's learning time is wasted. You should never have students sitting idol waiting for you to spend time with them, have them sitting at workstations that are engaging. Set a procedural step by step that students can follow without disrupting you in your small group. That way you can effectively help the struggling student while the other students that are waiting, doing group or independent work can also make the best out of the time without lacking adequate instruction.

2. Set high expectations for your students, make sure that you make it clear how their time is to be spent. For example, make sure they know that independent time is to be used learning and working. In order to make sure this is happening with the students, a teacher has to be proximally in the students' work area. If time is to be used effectively students have to know that you are always involved in making sure that they are on task. So much class time is waisted when teachers take a break after giving directions, and retreat to their desk to do paperwork or check an email. Students are opportunistic and many times the trouble makers wait for any chance, when the teacher is laxed to disrupt the learning of fellow students.

3. Make it easy to get to materials. Another chore or to do that drags and sometimes hinders a lesson from starting quickly is the need to spend time rounding up materials. Teachers that prepare ahead of time, should be organized and have things set and ready to go. Students should have an easy spot to get to quickly for daily supplies.

For example:

If you are teaching 4th graders, the physical classroom setting should be conducive to learning and easy to move around. It would be ideal to sit the students in groups of 4 to 6. Each group should have a numbered/colored bucket where all the groups daily materials are located. When the first student in a given group comes to class in the morning, they can pull the bucket so that if a tardy student in the group comes late, they do not have to walk around to get their things the materials(journals,pencils, colors, etc.) will already be at the middle of their table. I tried this to save time and it worked. Managing materials is a big time saver. Drawing attention to staying on task really aids in saving time.

4. Working around untouchable time: The breakfast, lunch, the sitting in the cafeteria waiting for school to start time, are all times where learning can still be stressed; especially in situations where students are severly behind. Some may argue that students need a break. Yes they do. I feel that anytime at school should support education. Teachers can show a video or play classical music during meals. Kids that sit idol can quiz each other over multiplication cards.

I do not suggest to make a habit of doing a "working lunch" but if you have a desperate situation were a child is extremely behind, have the child take their work with them to lunch, invite them to eat lunch with you, or keep them during enrichment classes just to get that much needed one on one time.

5.Using teacher prep time wisely: Most teachers get at least an hour to get things done daily. If this time is not taken up by meetings, try to prioritize it in the best way, putting most important task first. Never get behind on grades. Give yourself at least 15 minutes daily to input new grades, if not you are sure to get behind. Keep a ledger with parent contact info to quickly make calls or leave emails. Make your room organized and easy to get to resources so that your time will not be wasted looking for materials. Always get your paperwork into the administration first so that they will not pester you during instruction.

Do not make the mistake of taking work home every night especially if you have a family. I suggest getting to work extra early and leaving a little late, but when you do make it home take the time for you and your love ones. No matter how hard you work there will always be more work to do so remember that there is only one you and that stressing about things will only take more out of you than what things are worth.

Make sure your students understand from day one how important time is in your class. Time them when they practice a routine, and encourage them to perfect how they do a daily task so that it will be done efficiently and in the least amount of time. So many opportunities to learn are lost when time is not valued and treated with respect. A teacher that manages his/her time well best serves the interest of the students by being available to teach and making sure learning is maximize.

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