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school schedules speed up year after year, putting more and more pres- sure on children to manage a world filled with more transitions, extended curricula, less predictability, and less time to accomplish more. It’s tough on all children, but for these “canaries” who have a heightened sensitivity to time pressures, it’s impossible. Our society and schools are faced with

 

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T H E S K I L L F U L T E A C H E R 99

PART TWO | MANAGEMENT | TIME

 

two possibilities. One is medicating more and more children in an effort to decrease their sensitivity to our ever faster, less regulated pace of life and education. Another is making changes in the structure and pace of school life to reduce temporal trauma for all of our children. (p. 23)

WAYS TO REALIZE TIME RELATED GOALS IN THE CLASSROOM

Clearly there is a lot to consider when it comes to this area of performance. At various points throughout this chapter, we have mentioned ways in which time issues are intertwined with other areas of performance in teaching. Tables 8.2, 8.3, and 8.4 summarize areas of performance that relate specifically to managing time efficiently and in service of supporting student learning and achievement.

Establish routines and procedures Develop a plan for dealing with housekeeping issues (lunch count, attendance, permission slips, cleanup, announce- ments) so these don’t compete with instructional time. (Routines)

Delegate jobs Teach students how to do some of the management tasks you would ordinarily do (wheeling the overhead projector into place, distributing and collecting materials, chang- ing desk arrangements, or moving furniture to match the planned activity for the day) to reduce setup time and maxi- mize the amount of time guiding their learning.

Reward efficiency Recognize and reward students who are using time wisely and managing it well.

Have instructional materials ready and supplies conveniently available

Students can access and return them independently and efficiently. (Momentum: Provisioning, Space)

Allow sufficient time for transitions Avoid a harried pace, but challenge students to be efficient, and teach them how to implement routines that save time. (Routines, Space, Momentum)

Minimize time spent on discipline issues Deal with disruptions and off-task behavior quickly, directly, privately when possible, and with the minimum it takes to get the students back on track. (Attention, Discipline)

Table 8.2 Goal 1: Minimize Non-Instructional Time and Develop Efficient Management Systems

 

 

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Table 8.3 Goal 2: Manage Pacing and Rhythm During Instructional Time

Give notice before transitions

Provide students with advance notice when they have been cognitively or physically engaged in a task or activity so they have time to shift gears. (Momentum)

Start and end lessons on time with meaningful activities

The opening and closing minutes of lessons are the moments that are most naturally remembered. (Principle of Learning: Sequence)

Plan for active engagement during the opening and closing minutes of the class

During opening minutes activate knowledge for an upcoming lesson, recall or practice something previously taught, or record objectives for the class in their notes and during closing minutes by summarizing and reflecting on what they have learned in class that day, answering a question related to the day’s objective. Or use the closing minutes to give assignments slowly and carefully, to pose challenging dilemmas for students to ponder (end without closure), or to get personal involvement or commitments from stu- dents on controversial issues or on contracts. The main point is to use them, not lose them, by giving sharp focus and purpose to the beginning and ending minutes.

Have short independent opening assignments

Establish a routine where students anticipate coming into class and starting immedi- ately and independently on a 3- to 5-minute opening assignment. (Principle of Learn- ing: Similarity of Environment)

Calibrate time thoughtfully, and help students monitor it

When there is an activity students are expected to complete within a time frame, make sure it is a reasonable time frame, let them know what it is at the outset, and provide them with a way to monitor their pace accordingly (for example, a transparent timer on a whiteboard, intermittent pacing reminders, or student timekeepers within groups).

Pause for students to process and make meaning

Pause every 8 to 10 minutes of direct instruction, and require students to process what they have been hearing, seeing, or doing so they have an opportunity to absorb it, register it in memory, and connect existing knowledge with incoming information. (Principle of Learning)

Pulse the learning Balance or chunk periods of direct instruction and information input with independent or small group opportunities for students to practice, apply, and get feedback and support with new learning tasks. Consider the length of chunks that are best suited to the performance level of the learners and the complexity of the material, and volley between input and guided practice accordingly.

Allow time for thinking After posing instructional questions to all students, pause and protect at least 3 to 5 seconds of silence so all have the opportunity to process what the question is ask- ing and to construct a thoughtful response (Wait Time I). Pause again after a student answers to allow the response to be heard and absorbed by all and to give the student time to extend, modify, or elaborate on the thoughts she has expressed. (Wait Time II)

Plan for physical movement

If a learning experience requires students to sit still for long stretches, plan ways for them to get intermittent physical movement (for example, stand and share, find a learn- ing partner or other processing activities that require movement) at least every thirty to forty minutes to keep their brains functioning at their highest capacity. (Brain research on cognition)

 

 

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Table 8.4 Goal 3: Maximize Engaged and Academic Learning Time

Balance the interaction complexity

Strike a balance between whole-class, small-group, paired, and individual learning time. Different learners have natural preferences, and too much of any one format can be a hindrance to learning. (Differentiated Instruction)

Prepare students for independent work

Be clear in your explanation of what is expected, and have students summarize direc- tions and expectations with partners to avoid confusion and helplessness when they are expected to begin the work. When appropriate, have students attempt an example while you circulate, and check understanding before assigning a longer period of independent work to ensure that engaged time becomes academic learning time.

Involve students in modeling and demon- strating work (being the teacher)

Do this prior to or after independent practice while you act as a guide on the side. It enables you to check understanding and keep students more actively participating.

Monitor independent work

When students are working independently (alone or in small groups), consider it an op- portunity to gather assessment data to inform instruction. Monitor the learning by walk- ing around to find out how they are doing and to provide guidance and feedback, which will keep them on track and increase the amount of high success time for all of them.

Accommodate dif- ferent rates of task completion

Plan learning experiences so there can be some flexibility with the length of time individual students have to master skills or concepts and the degree of guidance they receive while doing so.

Have relevant and meaningful supple- mental work ready for students who finish tasks early

Often this requires planning for and managing more than one concurrent activity that students work on during an instructional period. (See Momentum: Fillers and Overlap- ping, Differentiated Instruction.)

Collect data on how time is actually being used

This allows you to make informed adjustments to allocate time to maximize learning time.

 

 

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PART TWO | MANAGEMENT | TIME

WAYS TO REALIZE TIME-RELATED GOALS AT THE SCHOOL LEVEL

If you are a school administrator, you have a role to play in prioritizing and protecting learning time in your school’s classrooms. Here are a few suggestions for how you might do that:

p Prioritize allocated time. Develop agreements about how much time should be allocated in the schedule for various subjects and curricular areas. Encourage teachers to collect data about how time is spent in their classrooms.

p Protect instructional time. Minimize or eliminate disruptions and intrusions into classrooms during instructional time; develop alterna- tive ways to relay messages, make announcements, and touch base with teachers.

There are probably no teachers anywhere who feel satisfied that they have had sufficient contact time with students to be able to accomplish all that they hope to, or all that they are expected to, in a given class period, day, or year. What we have tried to do in this chapter is (1) show how multifaceted this area of per- formance is, (2) suggest some ways in which one might thoughtfully and in- tentionally examine how students are spending this valuable resource, and (3) encourage the collection of concrete data in order to discover ways in which we can take increasing control of time in school to get the highest rate of re- turn on student achievement. To quote a respected colleague, “The quality of our teaching is what changes time in the classroom. As teachers we have the power to control the clock even if we often feel like the clock is controlling us” (Wood, 1999, p. 217).

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