Unfortunately, we have all felt that time crunch. The pressure to teach more in less time. Many things are vital for your students to learn and comprehend. However, without the time to teach, the time to learn, and the time to apply information, nothing we do in the classroom will ever matter. I firmly believe that when a topic is important, we should take all the time needed for that topic without rushing. Having said that - how can we practically save time or rather use time wisely in our classrooms? Below is a list of tips and tricks I used in my own classroom.
#1 - Use a Timer!
If students are doing an activity or WS set a timer for the amount of time required. For example, I might set a timer for 8 minutes for the warm-up assignment. When the time rings, whatever is not completed becomes HW. Of course the timer can always be extended, but only if students used their work time wisely. I have set timers for all sorts of things from an activity to WS to a few minutes for a brain-break.
#2 - Time the Teacher
We have all had that day where the technology stops working. We can no longer access that excellent YouTube video or awesome PowerPoint. Or perhaps we have lost (I mean misplaced) some important object that was the centerpiece of our teaching. We have all been here, and unfortunately in these types of situations sometimes I tend to spend too much time trying to fix it. This eats up valuable class time. Next time the technology stops working or you misplace educational material give yourself 2-5 minutes to fix or find the material. Then STOP! Don't eat up more precious learning time! Role with the punches and come up with something else for the day. I know your frustrated but such is the life of a teacher.
#3 - Warm-Ups!
I have a hot, cold, and at times lukewarm relationship with warm-ups depending on the topic that I am teaching, my mood, and the behavior of my students. Regardless of my changing moods about warm-ups, I recognize that this can be a great way to help students remember difficult topics and important information. For example, one year my students were struggling with dimensional analysis, and we simply had to move onto a new topic. The solution? For several weeks, we completed one to two dimensional analysis problems as a warm-up. My students were able to practice and improve their dimensional analysis skills while also learning new curriculum. It wasn't perfect, but my students greatly improved their dimensional analysis skills. Through warm-ups, I was able to address my student's learning/knowledge deficiencies while still moving forward in the curriculum. When you simply must move on in the curriculum, use warm-ups to review, emphasize, and revisit areas where students are struggling.
#4 - Ditch the Cut-n-Glue Assignments
It takes a great deal of time for students, even high school students, to cut out items, determine the answer to the assignment, and then glue down items. My solution? When possible, print these assignments on card stock, laminate, cut-out, and place in baggies. You now have an activity kit. I like to make a dozen of these kits so students can complete them in smaller groups. Same assignment, same learning, but less time!
Happy Teaching :)
- Founder of Chemistry with Confidence