Better Time Management in the Classroom Will Benefit You and Your Students

Time management in the classroom

Do you have strategies specifically for time management in the classroom?

This is Zone 1 time we’re talking about -- clearly defined boundaries that provide you with a limited time frame to achieve whatever it is you want. 

Effective management means making the most of the time with your students. So how do you do it?

Here are 11 suggestions…

1. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

An obvious point? Maybe, but it’s an important foundation for effective time management in the classroom because it ensures you…

2. Know exactly what you want to achieve

At the start, make clear to your class what they will gain. I usually say something like ‘At 11 o’clock I’d like you to walk out of here knowing how to…’.

Write what you want to achieve somewhere everyone can see it.

Quite often I will actually post the timings of the lesson's activities on the board at the start so they know what to expect and when.

3. Delegate work to students

Examples include giving out books/resources and collecting in.

What can you habitually outsource to them that can free you up to do more of what’s really important?

4. Be flexible

Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. Is that okay with you, or do you need to stick rigidly to the plan?

As long as the end is kept in mind, a bit of deviation along the way is okay, even fun.

5. Expect the unexpected and allow for it

This is particularly important when allowing time to get their attention - an essential pre-requisite for effective time management in the classroom.

6. Take a 'Brain Break'

After 30 minutes, or at a natural hiatus, give them (and yourself) a two minute brain break. Let them talk about anything except the subject matter.

You might even want to employ a bit of reverse psychology and insist on it. I’ve found this works really well with students of all ages, abilities, and attitudes.

7. Give students specific time frames

Remind them how long they have left to work on the task.

Develop a greater sense of urgency in students who may otherwise take it easy.

Do you use a computer and data projector? Use an online stopwatch when you set tasks.

8. Plan and expect to finish in time to pack away

Self explanatory, really!

9. Use a carrot or stick to get tasks done

For example, if they have lunch straight after the lesson, they can choose to complete the task before, or after, the bell. If it’s the last hour of the day, you don’t have that luxury.

The answer?

Promise them an end of lesson ‘carrot’ that they can enjoy if they finish. 5-10 minutes playing a game or allowing time to talk works well.

10. Use the Pareto Principle

Approximately 80% of the effects in your lessons flow from 20% of causes. Identify those and you can learn to avoid over-spending time on certain activities. Learn more here.

11. Have a visible clock on the wall

Students prefer to know where they stand in terms of time (and, obviously, it helps their time management, too), so a clock is a must.

I set mine a minute or two fast to encourage us to finish on time (but they don't know that!)

How do you know you're achieving better classroom time management?

When your students are working harder than you! 

A basic rule of thumb is to expect things to take longer than you plan for them to. Try to leave in some 'buffer' time to allow for this and any other unforeseen circumstances that will crop up.

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Time Management in the Classroom