As a teacher at any level it can be a challenge to manage your time inside the classroom and ensure all students have a full understanding of the topic you’re teaching.
Here, Matt Thorley, Head of Mathematics Faculty at Hawkley Hall High School, gives his top tips to successfully manage your classroom time as a teacher.
1. Start as you mean to go on
Have something available to engage students as soon as they enter the classroom. This will help settle the class down and create a positive learning environment from the start as well as allowing you to complete any necessary admin tasks such as registers or provide equipment to students that need it.
2. Have a plan
Make sure you know what you expect the students to learn and how you are going to teach it. Try to think about possible misconceptions that may occur and how you will tackle them. Have examples ready to help support your explanations and how you can re-enforce key ideas. Also make sure the activities you have planned for the students support the learning you expect to take place.
3. Be flexible
Not all lessons will go to plan. Be prepared to adapt what you are doing to best suit the needs of the class. Some explanations or activities may take longer than anticipated so allow students time to develop their understanding as opposed to rushing through simply because you “planned it”.
4. Step back and watch
A colleague once explained this to me as “Radiator Time”. Simply move to the edge of the room and spend a short period of time (30 seconds to a minute) watching your class. You will be able to see who is on task and who needs their attention refocusing. You will be able to see who has understood the task and who needs further explanation. You will be able to see which students may need additional challenge and which students may need additional support. By watching your class for a short period of time you will be able to decide where the rest of your time is best used.
5. Stop repeating yourself
If you find you are being asked the same questions by a number of different students it may be time to bring the class back together and revisit the learning intentions or instructions. Alternatively, direct students to members of the class who have already received clarification and allow them to repeat your message. This will help to reinforce their understanding as well as allowing you to respond to any new questions or feedback to students about other things.
6. Let the students do the work
If the task is suitable get students to mark their own (or each other’s) work. Have answer sheets prepared for students who want to know if an answer is right or wrong so they can check it themselves. Use students who have shown a good understanding of the work as ‘helpers’ and get them to mark other students work or offer advice. This will allow you to focus on the members of the class who need the most support.