Teaching is a challenging and demanding profession yet seeing students learn is also very rewarding.
One of the challenges of teaching is having enough time to teach the many areas of the curriculum that are expected and to cater for the varying needs of the students in the class.
With the many disruptions in a day it can be worthwhile to look out for, and guard, any solid blocks of teaching time that are available. You might hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside your door during those times.
Timetabling is a complicated and complex task. However through working with the person who arranges the timetable in your school you can raise the awareness of the need to have appropriate blocks of time. The length of time that is ‘appropriate’ for your class will depend on their age and the learning intention.
It may be worthwhile raising the issue to secure your principal’s help in scheduling withdrawal programs around those blocks and ask parents not to schedule medical of dental appointments then.
To minimise lost time it is important to plan for smooth transitions between lessons. Transitions are those times during the day when you move from one activity to the next. Because students work at different paces and different levels, some may be able to make the transitions faster than others. Transition time often leaves openings for misbehavior and disruptions. To avoid this it is important to make your expectations for transitions clear and establish routines for transition times:
- Provide opportunities for students to practice those routines: “When you come in, be sure you complete your ‘Ready! Checklist’ before you sit down.”
- Let students know when an activity will end: “In two minutes we’ll have a whole-class review of this problem solving approach.”
- Let students know what they can expect in any subsequent or follow-up activity: “After lunch, we’re going to continue working in reading groups.”
- Be sure your lessons have clear beginnings and endings. Review the lesson objectives before the lesson begins and again at the conclusion of the lesson.
Be clear, be close
Students achieve when they know exactly what is expected of them. Incomplete work can be the result of incomplete directions. As a result, time is wasted. It’s equally important that students know you are available. Always provide clear, precise and thorough directions to any task. If students are asking lots of questions about what they’re supposed to do, the directions were not clear and precise.
A useful strategy can be to ask one of the students to repeat the directions. This not only checks that THEY have understood, it also gives other students a chance to hear the directions a second time and perhaps explained in a different way.
The amount of learning that takes place in a classroom is often related to the distance you maintain with your students. Time is saved when you are readily available and can take advantage of mini-teaching opportunities.
It is therefore important to closely monitor student progress by circulating throughout the room and maintaining a physical presence with the students. Your desk should not be a sanctuary from students.
Make the most of blocks of uninterrupted teaching time. Classrooms today face constant interruptions with specialist teacher lessons, events and interruptions to learning time. Over the course of a year, this can take as much as half of the day’s potential learning time away. Guard the blocks of teaching time that you have as GOLD! Protect them at all cost and use them to teach the most important lessons.