Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I don't have the time !

In presentations that I have done across Canada, I have always sent out an evaluation sheet that measures my “effectiveness”. One comment that always comes to the forefront is – Great ideas Stephan, inspiring, motivating … BUT I DON’T HAVE THE TIME!

I would be hard pressed to find someone who has all the time in the world. Everything we do is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, grading periods, semesters, or academic years to name a few. As the Clever Sheep asks, how do we tip the iceberg?

With the current focus on student achievement, time is the tip of that iceberg. As an educator, you can appreciate the notion of “allocated school time” where students are required to be in school. What does that mean? I would suggest it includes time when instruction is not taking place, such as school assemblies, lunch, recess and so forth.

“Engaged time” invites students to participate in learning activities. I would suggest when students are invited to participate in learning activities do not point to student learning. If I push this concept a little further, just because students are engaged in learning activities does not necessarily mean they are learning. Perhaps students are reviewing material or receiving material they are not prepared to learn.

So when does learning occur? Learning occurs in the precise period when an instructional activity is aligned with a student’s readiness to learn. Research suggests clearly, the quality of our teaching is the key to making time matter. Specifically, wasting five minutes each hour can add up to two hours lost each week in the school year.

Authors like Harry Wong or Fred Jones suggest that improving our classroom management procedures and techniques can decrease the amount of time lost to such factors as student misunderstandings, classroom routines, and breaks between learning activities. Additionally, Wong and Jones suggest that it can also decrease the amount of time spent distributing materials or handling student misbehaviour.

I think we would all agree that when students are highly interested in the activity they are more apt to learn. Here are some time saving techniques: small group instruction, skill-based grouping, and assigning seating strategically. Included are writing out and thoroughly explaining assignments, having materials students need readily available, providing quick feedback, on student work, and planning each day’s lesson to ensure time for closure.

More time savers include engaging “early finishers” in interesting and meaningful activities, and allowing large blocks of time for closure. Why not use notes, letters or e-mail to communicate with families to assist their children to use planners to manage their own time.

If we want students to look forward to returning to our classes each day we have to plan to build on what they have learned… planning takes time but it allows students to be absorbed in their learning and experience success.

Sadly I have run out of time on this. What is your story?

clocks, a photo by Leo Reynolds on Flickr.

No comments: