Really Good U: Effective Time Management
Really Good U: Effective Time Management
It is easy to get sidetracked when teaching. Guests entering the room, fire drills, and overhead announcements can all delay a perfectly smooth plan for the day. Since very few teaching days are uninterrupted, it is important to know how to effectively manage the time that you do have.
Time management breaks down into a couple of areas. It can relate to how you keep your students on task and in the moment. It can also relate to how you effectively manage classroom procedures. Both aspects are equally important in any well-run classroom.
1, 2, 3, Eyes on Me!
Keeping your students focused can eat up a lot of time during the day if you do not have an effective way to regain their attention. Sometimes, a simple sound or verbal cue can be all it takes. “[I use] my wind chimes!” says Marcia. “It’s such a different sound and it really gets their attention when I need it fast!” Getting everyone’s attention at once is important too. “The most effective trick is getting the attention of the entire class in 2 seconds,” explains Dawn R. “When I say, ‘Class’ all my students respond, ‘Yes’ and look directly at me. In previous years, I would stand in front of the class with my hand raised and a smile on my face. There were plenty of times I waited too long for the attention of the entire class.”
Using your foreign language skills can also help you. “Surprise them into listening,” suggests Kim S. “Sometimes I will speak in French, which makes them all stop and look. Most know English, and some know Spanish, but none speak French- which tricks them into stopping and listening.”
Verbal clues are also good for encouraging students to complete a task. “The good old fashion counting down from 10 to 0 gets the kids going for me,” says Mary J. “I tell them they have 10 seconds to clean up their area and get in their seats then I start counting down loudly. This gets their juices going and they hurry to beat the time.”
Daily Time Management
The second aspect of time management relates to how you structure the flow of your class. Everything from job charts to timed instruction are important for keeping learning going throughout the day. Liz T. explains how she helps organize time in her classroom. “Besides being prepared as a teacher, I make sure that my students get all of their supplies needed for the day ready in the morning,” she says. “This way they can take their time getting ready for the day, sharpening pencils and what not while we are taking care of morning business. When it is time for instruction to take place we won’t have to worry about waiting on each other to get our supplies ready.”
Managing time, much like creating a positive environment in the class, often begins with the teacher. “I think my favorite time management trick is one I developed for myself,” admits Tammy A. “I made a plan for what needs to be done every day, at the end of the day, as well as, what needs to be done by the end of the week. I then divided the weekly plan up with a little bit done every day, rather than having a ton of work left to do on Friday afternoons. It has definitely made me much more focused and organized as well as makes it easier for me to enjoy my weekend knowing I am ready to go on Monday morning!”
Heather W. suggests that teachers not take on all of the jobs in the classroom either. “I employ student helpers to take care of tasks that don’t need to be done by me. Students fill out an application for a job & write a short paragraph describing why they’d be good for that job,” she explains. “I ‘hire’ my students and teach them their jobs. My students take the lunch count, return and file books, collect papers and materials, gather work for absent students, dim the lights and ready the overhead, and work the timer. This way, they do the ‘heavy lifting’ so I can move smoothly into the next activity and not waste time wtih ‘trivial’ tasks. Plus,” she says, “they love helping the teacher so it’s a win-win situation.”
When you have the routine organized and your own time management issues resolved, how then do you help your students effectively manage their time? “I have sand timers in some of the centers as well as kitchen timers,” explains Amy B. “I also have a stopwatch that I use, but I allow a student to be in charge of it and when time gets close to being up, they are the one who goes from station to station making sure students are ready to move to the next task.”
When students are idle there can also be classroom management issues. “I have something for everyone to be working on at any time, so they are busy every minute possible and don’t need to ask me what to do next,” says Jennifer R. “They learn personal responsibility by completing tasks independently and we celebrate these growing skills.”
Managing your classroom instruction and transition time is one of the most effective ways to become a great classroom manager. With so many state-mandated requirements, fitting in all of the year’s instruction can be difficult. When you begin by making a plan and using the resources at hand, you become a master of time and classroom management.
Questions to Consider:
Teacher’s Time Management Survival Kit by P. Susan Mamchak
Taming the Time Stealers: Tricks of the Trade from Organized Teachers by Mildred C. Gore and John F. Dowd
Time-Saving Tips for Teachers by Joanne Wachter Ghio and Clare Carhart
This article is part of Really Good Stuff’s