Time management is an issue that comes up in all kinds of work environments, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that teachers have to think about time management in their classrooms.
In fact, time management can be even more important for teachers since they have a classroom full of students to direct and educate, and how they spend their time in class is just as important to them as it is to you. But the idea of time management can be off putting to some. As teachers we are more familiar with learning styles and comprehension checks than we are business concepts about how to beat the clock. Luckily, time management in the ESL classroom is easier than many people might think. With a few tips and tools, you can make time management work to your advantage in the classroom. You might even find that good time management makes you a better teacher and your students better learners. Here are some tips and tools for implementing time management in your classroom that you can use starting today.
What is in Time Management for You
Think about pace
What will your students be doing? How long will it take them to complete a task? These are things you should determine before you and your students enter the classroom. As you make your lesson plans, be realistic about how long each activity will take to complete, and mark it down in your notes. In my own lesson plans, I often list the activities I would like to accomplish during a class period in one column, any information I need about that activity in a second column, and then use two additional columns to note the materials I will need and the time I expect each activity to take. (You can use my template or create your own.) If you do note estimated times for activities in your lesson plans, you will be able to better determine what you will be able to cover each class period.
Tell them about it
Communicate your goals to your students at the start of class. Not only will this give your students an idea of where you intend to go in the class period, it will also help motivate them to concentrate and focus on each activity as you do them. Write your goals on the board along with the amount of time you expect to spend on each step, and make sure your students can refer to it throughout the class period.
Because in class activities often do not take the amount of time you expect (even when you do your best to make realistic predictions), be prepared to either fill in a few minutes at the end of class or cut an activity out of your plans and shift it to your next class period. If you need ideas for short in class activities, check out these Top Ten Time Fillers for your ESL classroom. When you are prepared with these activities, your students will never feel like you are wasting their time (or money) by throwing away class time.
Hold the questions
Tell your students to save their questions until the end of class. Though it may feel like you are denying your students answers to their questions, you are not. By keeping all the questions until the end of class, you make sure your time is focused and your students are concentrating on the activity at hand. You may want to give each student several post-it notes to stick on their desks for jotting down questions they have during class. That way, when you are ready to take their questions at the end they will not have forgotten them.
Give your students instructions at the start of each activity, and make sure your instructions are brief but clear. Make sure they know what your expectations are for both their actions and the time it should take. If your students are unclear about what they should be doing, do answer clarification questions before starting the activity. Taking these steps at the start of an activity can only make your class move smoother. After all, if you students are confused about what they will be doing, it will only waste time
Competition can be useful for motivating students in the classroom. Whether you award points for an activity or name the winner the first to finish, sometimes a little healthy competition can be just what your students need to put a fire in their bellies for in class activities. Be careful not to overuse this strategy, though, or you may find that the quality of your students’ work begins to deteriorate. Use your best judgment when deciding how much competition to include in class.
Don’t get pin holed in a class period
Many class periods limit you to 40 or 60 minutes, but you don’t have to let that limit what you choose to do with your students. Think of your lesson plan as spanning over several class periods. Make logical divisions in your plan for each class period, and fill in any extra minutes with purposeful fillers. Once you have your plans assigned to the appropriate days, think about the pace for each class period. When you plan this way, you will find a classroom bell does not determine how much or deeply you cover a topic or how much your students are able to learn.
Time management does not have to be intimidating. With a little preplanning and preparation, you and your students will find class moves smoothly, holds their interests, and promotes an environment perfect for learning.