Seems we never notice a leaky faucet until we get the water bill!
Let's do the math: a lost 5 minutes everyday in a semester-long class (let's say 85 days), translates into a lost 425 minutes by exam time. That's a little over 4 1/2 class periods - almost a full week!
So how do we recoup that ticking gold? Transitions tend to be the most difficult for teachers and students to manage efficiently. Here are a few tips for minimizing transition confusion.
1. Beginning of class - one of the worst time voids of the entire class period! Taking roll, settling down, getting materials out - it's like a Van Halen video. "I don't feel tardy"
- Systems and routines: have a bell ringer, warm-up, class starter, whatever name you want to call it. Be consistent and set it as the expected routine every time they walk into your class. This opens up the minutes you need to take attendance, take care of make up or missed work, etc. More class beginning strategies to come!
2. Group work/Independent work: "You have 2 minutes to work on this with your group." Four minutes later..."Ok, you have 1 minute left!" Sound familiar?
- Use timers: big, loud, visible timers. Not like fire drill loud, but you get the idea. We have been conditioned to respond to countdowns and bells - use it to your advantage. Display a countdown timer so students begin monitoring themselves rather relying on you to watch the clock. You need your attention free to work with groups and students anyway. Stick to your times and have a report out or follow up ready to keep accountability.
- Minute Fingers: Will students sometimes legitimately need more time? Definitely. Groups hold up the number of additional minutes they need. I suggest giving them a limit here as well - maybe 0, 1, or 2. More time is not unlimited time. Go with the majority or an average. Again, set that timer!!
Here are some great online timers with fun visuals and alarms:
Make notes about down time in your class. When do they typically happen? For how long? Once you can identify the when and why, figuring out the how to fix becomes a little easier.