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Time Management

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Hilary De Vos Hilary De Vos 1375 Points

As a new teacher, how do you handle managing your time? I feel as though the lessons I plan work great on paper. However when I go about teaching, the lesson is either too short, or I run out of time and get to everything I want to cover.

Jenny Sarna Jenny Sarna 1535 Points

Gloria Alexander (Celaya) Gloria Alexander 995 Points

It is very upsetting when I spend so much time preparing for a lesson and when it is time to teach it, unexpected things happen that we run out of time or the lesson is to hard for students. I have learn to prepare for a lesson leaving ten to fifteen minutes of free time. This way if something came up we still have time to finish it. If we are able to finish it on time with all the extra time remaining, we do crafts or gave reviews that go with the lesson. This way students and teachers do not loose any time.

William Reed William Reed 380 Points

I know the feeling! Worse, many curriculum materials suggest a particular amount of time for a lesson and this, for me anyway, invariably feels like too little time. I try to strike a balance between "working through the curriculum" (not letting things drag out for the kids who are "getting it") and ensuring that all students are on board conceptually with where the curriculum is going. It seems like student assessment of some kind should drive when a lesson is considered complete- one challenging aspect of this is making sure there is somewhere deeper to go, or some extension application that you can fall back on if the whole class or particular students demonstrate completing a lesson earlier than expected. For me anyway, it's never the whole class that finishes earlier than expected, but often individual students who do. On the other hand, procedural and management issues (in terms of materials, directions that are well interpreted, and student focus on the task at hand) are (unfortunately) often what drives up lesson times for me. It seems to me that some of this can be handled with better, more detailed planning and a better, more organized classroom, whereas some of this can only be handled with a certain amount of experience (both because it's hard to predict exactly how much time something will take students to do and it's hard to have a handle on the most efficient approach to a particular activity as the teacher until you've done it a few times).

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 89208 Points

Hi Hilary,
Yes, time management can be a problem. I have learned to always over plan. It is okay to not get through everything, but it is never okay to finish early and waste valuable student learning time. I am always thinking of ways to check for understanding along the way. Perhaps having a few formative assessment strategies ready to go will serve as appropriate and useful "fillers" when you find a lesson taking a lot less time than you expected. There is an excellent discussion thread with ideas for ways to "check for understanding" at:
FACTS: Formative Assessment Classroom Techniques
Carolyn

Alyssa Ramjohn Alyssa Ramjohn 1585 Points

When trying to manage my time, I use a technique that I learned in my reading class. In class we learned that we should make a rough estimate of how long each particular section of the lesson would take. Once you have an estimate of the amount of time the lesson should take, plan accordingly and keep your eye on the clock to make sure that you're not running out of time or rushing the lesson.

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

Hilary, You have received some excellent information so far in the above posts!! One thing I would do if the lesson was too short is to have a couple of quick verbal games related to the subject areas to play with the students to fill in the time. Also, getting lessons to finish at the appropriate time is a skill that is developed over time when teaching, so hang in there and try some of the suggestions you have received to see what works for you. Good luck.

Tina Harris Tina Harris 65805 Points

I always did what Carolyn did, and overplanned. I also left a day every 2 or 3 weeks where I did not plan a lesson and used that as my personal make-up day to try to catch up my lesson plans with the calendar. It also came in handy when we had unscheduled convocations (which, unfortunately, happened rather frequently). If, by some miracle, we were on track and on time, that day became a general review day and we would play science basketball, or chemistry bingo, or some science game, or we would watch a short video that tied in with the topic we were covering.

Alexandra Ortega Alexandra Ortega 1005 Points

Hi Hilary, I am a pre-service teacher right now, so I haven't had much experience with with time management throughout an entire school day, but from what I've learned, it's best to do run-throughs of your lessons prior to teaching them. This way, you'll know how long it will take to get through a lesson, and you can identify any gaps or problems that may arise. Also, running through a lesson yourself prior to teaching it allows you to anticipate any hiccups that students might run into.

Daphne Henry Daphne Henry 520 Points

Hi Hilary, As a pre-student teacher, one of the things I observe happening most often in class is time being wasted on classroom management. If I started clocking minutes wasted, I bet the class spends at least a combined 40 minutes a day, just on behavior management. Time is wasted on getting out supplies, lining up, getting quite, and so on. I think one of the factors that contributes to this problem is the sheer number of students in the class. Perhaps getting a routine down with your kids would help with time management. Maybe explaining that time wasted could be spent on fun activities. One of my professors used a stop watch to keep her on track... I'm sure you've heard much of this before, but it's worth a try! Daphne

Tina Harris Tina Harris 65805 Points

I was skimming new posts and had a flashback to when I was having a terrible time with this problem at the beginning of my teaching. I actually put a timer on my desk where I could easily see it and when it went off, I was done teaching that lesson and open for student input/questions/interactions. When I switched from talking to inquiry, I also used the timer, but we switeched it to when the class needed to be done for the day to do cleanup. Lesson timing comes more easily with practice. When you are starting out, you can try to predict what will take extra time because they don't get it, but you will probably not get it correct. No, problem, though, simply use that time for something else if you are done early - like exit questions. If you tend to run over, check my earlier post about how to factor that into the schedule. That extra unplanned day may end up being used for review, if I am actually on time or running ahead. Or we might use it as a homework makeup day, if you allow makeup assignments, or an extra credit day. I also find my lesson timing changes throughout the day, a lesson that went quickly with one class may drag with another - it happens and when you recognize this, you try one of the above suggestions to deal with it! It is normal to be a little off on timing - especially as a new teacher.

Dylaneigh Reardon Dylaneigh Reardon 1485 Points

This is a great question. I am still a student but as a student I know that I have always appreciated when the teacher over planned rather than under planned. I feel students will respect you more if you always use up your class time. If you become that teacher that always runs out of information and lessons then they are going to count on that and always be waiting to see how early they will get out "this time". Come up with some fun interactive games related to the subject you can play if you run out of time. Perhaps jeprody? Students will feel like they are beating you at their game but the Jeprody could just be a study tool ;) Dylaneigh

Kathryn Cleary Kathryn Cleary 460 Points

I may not have as much knowledge about this topic being that I am a pre-student teacher, but as far as lessons ending too early you can try looking for or researching "sponge activities". These are academically driven activities that soak up extra time you have after a lesson ends early. You don't want your kids to just sit there waiting for recess/lunch when that time could be better spent reviewing previously learned material in an interactive way. Hope this helps!

Tina Harris Tina Harris 65805 Points

There used to be some saying about "idle hands being the tools of the devil". Unoccupied students can be a bit ornery. The "sponge" activities are good and very useful, but only once in a while and not as a daily thing. After the first few months, one should be able to time their presentation (add a few examples or stories or delete a few) so that the lesson lasts close to the end of the class period.

Anaily Pedraza Anaily Pedraza 1040 Points

Instead of having several shorter segments of teaching time throughout the day, a teacher should try to schedule longer, uninterrupted blocks for teaching time. A lot of time is wasted simply moving students to and from different areas of the school. Teachers should work with their principal to try to schedule all classroom activities around the same time. This will not only provide longer stretches of time for teaching, it will also provide the teacher more personal time in classroom. The teacher should also communicate with parents what times are set aside strictly for teaching. They should encourage parents to schedule any appointments for the child around these times.

Tammy Huang Tammy Huang 1785 Points

As a pre-student teacher, we have learned that if you finish your lessons early, you can try to do sponge activities. From what I have noticed from observing my kindergarten class, most of our time is wasted on classroom management. With the students being so young, we waste a lot of time on behavior management, getting them to listen nicely, line up nicely, etc. My guide teacher always reminds the students that if they talk, then she can't teach and when that time is wasted, they lose out on choice time (activity centers of their choice) at the end of the day. Sometimes if lessons end early we would have students volunteer and share what they liked about the lesson, something new that they didn't know from before, and what question do they still have about the lesson. I've also noticed that if we finish interactive writing lessons early, the guide teacher lets the students have free time using the whiteboard. They can draw, write the sight words on the wall, write a letter to a friend, and play hangman (but do not actually draw a man. Instead, we have them draw a flower. We learned from our literacy professor that we shouldn't hang a person.). I've also noticed for math (compose and decompose numbers up to 10), the teacher lets the students play with the manipulatives and have them try and come up with different ways to get the answer 10. And finally, I have noticed that once a while, she would do brainpop interactive games or videos to review what they just have learned.

Emily Carlson Emily Carlson 1570 Points

I think about this too and worry about it--thanks for the question and the great ideas!

Christina Torango Christina Torango 12445 Points

You all had some great ideas. I am in my student teaching phase and I feel like I am drowning at times. I really appreciate the advice you all listed. Thanks!

Kristin Zama Kristin Zama 3225 Points

Thank you for all the excellent ideas! I am currently a student teacher and this is one of the areas I feel will be challenging for me as well.

Adriana Lopez Adriana Lopez 2655 Points

Time management is one of the areas that I feel that I am lacking of right now during my student teaching phase. Thank you all for sharing these great ideas that I can work on while I present my lessons during student teaching. Good Luck to everyone!

Gabriela Gutierrez Gabriela Gutierrez 1115 Points

Lots of great ideas were introduced in this discussion! As a pre-service teacher I think this has been one of my biggest fears throughout student teaching. Transitions between activities in a given lesson seem to eat up a ton of time some days. I will say though, I watch the clock just as much as I reflect on student responses and behaviors to determine when it is okay to move forward, change up my teaching, or take a step back for a teachable moment.

Destiny Huggins Destiny Huggins 10040 Points

This is a huge concern for myself too! I did my first lesson (I am a student teacher) and the first lesson I wrote I felt was way too long, so I revised. Of course its the beginning of the school year, so the first 9 weeks seems to be more like review. My lesson was about a bit over an hour start to finish, but the students blew through the independent practice. Of we were done and had time to spare (end of day). Of course I didn't have anything planned, but I had two girls ask me if they could get the white boards and dice out and roll numbers and quick each other on comparing numbers (that is what my lesson was about). I thought that was the best idea, so I presented it to the class. Those who chose to play could and those who didn't were able to read books at their desk. Those two girls gave me the idea to just have an extra activity planned that is fun but still related to the concept taught.

Karen Mahoney Karen Mahoney 40 Points

I, too, am a pre-service teacher. I am often perplexed not only by the problem of how to fit it all in, but how to utilize any extra time for challenging those students who finish early. I am in a second grade classroom and it seems that many students are sent over for quiet reading or math games to fill some time when they have finished ahead of their classmates. I hope I am able to develop some strategies to use that time to differentiate for these quicker learners rather than simply having them kill some time. Any ideas?

Destiny Huggins Destiny Huggins 10040 Points

This is what I see in my classrooms too. Students can read or play math games, but sometimes you have to remember that those games can be challenging and a route to learning. I did a lesson on camparing numbers and after the lesson the lesson the students asked if they could create even larger numbers and compare them for practice. Though they saw it as a game, I saw it as a way that they could challenge themselves. My lesson only went to four digits, but when they played their "game" they were going up to 6 digits and my below groups were sticking with the 3 and 4 digits. It eneded up that the game not only got them to practice the skill I just taught, it was also a way to differientiate. :)

Emily Augustine Emily Augustine 1205 Points

I am a Student Teaching graduating in December. I am excited to finally be out in the field for good, but know that time management will be a struggle. I love planning science lessons and hope that my students are as excited about it as I am, but I want to make sure that I don't over-plan for the actual amount of time I will have to teach the lesson. Any suggestions? Emily A.

Johany Serafin Johany Serafin 1755 Points

I agree with not having enough time. It is so difficult to get everything is, but I have noticed that some teachers think it's okay to skip over science and S.S. Hoping I cano plan better and implement all subjects.

Destiny Huggins Destiny Huggins 10040 Points

I am also hoping that I can better plan to incorporate Science and SS. My daughter was in third grade last year and they didn't touch SS until it was time for a test. My cooperating teacher told me that last year the principal asked her to back off science so they could get more math in for the STARR test. It seems that keeping both SS and Science will be a challenge...

Shelby Robinson Shelby Robinson 1840 Points

I have this same issue as well! I always find myself running out of time and rushing to get things done. What i did last semester during my student teaching was i only allotted myself a certain number of minutes for each part of my lesson. By pacing myself, i realized it helped me a lot in the end and i think i'm going to go back to that.

Michelle Mattern Michelle Mattern 1775 Points

Time management is really difficult to judge, and ultimately it will differ depending on the group of kids that you are working with. I have done the same exact lesson with two very different groups of kids, and it took one group less time than I had planned, while the other group struggled to finish on time. I think that a good solution is to have an ongoing activity, project, journal entries, etc. that the students know they are responsible for in their free time. This way, the students that finish early have something constructive to be doing while the others are finishing up. This also works if the lesson or activity is being done in centers or rotating groups. Another thing you can do is plan the lessons to end at a scheduled time, but then plan an additional enrichment mini activity that can be tacked onto the end if you finish earlier then planned. This way, you don't have too much free time to try to fill up, but you also aren't planning lessons that are too long so that you don't finish and then the kids miss some important information. This is a good compromise to try out.

Brenda Barcenas Brenda Barcenas 2145 Points

Michelle, I definitely agree with you. Time management can vary depending on the groups of children that you are teaching. I have noticed this as well within my classrooms. A group of children might find the content easy, while another group might find it challenging. Therefore, class management can differ tremendously. I really like your idea of allowing students to finish ongoing projects, journals, etc. Students can have something constructive to do rather than just waiting around doing nothing. Another point that you must also take into consideration is behavior issues. Students who do finish early might become distracting to other individuals who are not finished. Therefore, journals entries and other activities must be educational but at the same time interesting the groups of children who do finish early.

Hannah Chacon Hannah Chacon 495 Points

Thank you for posting this. The replies have been very helpful to read. Time management is a difficult skill to take on in teaching. It's also a great skill to teach the students; it's important to practice in order to manage all the tasks they need to do.

Savannah Savage Savannah Savage 2730 Points

I am a pre-service teacher, but from the experiences I have had with planning lessons it is always better to have more activities planned that you think you'll need. Try to keep a general idea about which activities are a priority and which ones will be done for enrichment if there is time. It is also a good idea to have activities that students who finish early can start on so that they don't disrupt those that are still working on the previous activity. Often these types of activities for early finishers can be developed so that they allow students to exercise their creative abilities. As many have already said, you will get better at this particular challenge as you gain experience in the classroom and as you get to know your particular students.

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