In today’s schools management of instructional time is of the utmost importance. We have a great deal of content to cover each day so it is imperative we maintain procedures that allow students enough time to be actively involved in learning. I took time to reflect on my ability to manage transitions for students in my classroom.
Transitions can fall into three categories: entering and getting settled in the classroom, quitting an activity and exiting the classroom, and switching from one academic activity to another (Finley, 2017). In my experience the most amount of lost time results from transitions that occur between academic activities.
One example of a transition where significant time was lost due to poor planning of how to execute the transition occurred during a math lesson where whiteboards were necessary for the lesson. I had already called students down to the carpet to begin the the math activity and whiteboards were not needed until the middle of the lesson. At the middle of the lesson I asked students to each get their own whiteboard. What I did not calculate correctly was the time it was going to take for students to: stand up one by one, bend down and take a whiteboard, pick-up a dry-erase pen, take an eraser, then make their ways back to their seats on the carpet. Out of the thirty minutes I had planned for the lesson, this took at least three minutes if not four. Using three to four minutes out of the thirty total minutes I had planned for the math session represents between 10-14% of the total time allotted. I realize now this was wasteful and to avoid this I could have simply laid out the whiteboards in advance of the lesson to save time.
Every bit of extra instructional time counts. If I were to lose three minutes of instructional time in each of 180 math lessons in a year, that would be nine hours of instructional time lost in the year.
To manage transitions better it is important to consider questions such as these beforehand:
- Did I prepare all materials students will need?
- Has my lesson been sequenced correctly?
- Are students seated in a manner conducive to learning that will minimize disruptions from students?
- Did I provide students with an appropriate warning before asking them to transition?
As I’ve reflected on the mistakes I’ve made, I’ve become much more conscious of adding better planning to my learning segments. As a result, I’ve been able to reduce the time lost due to poor transitions. And although there is still much room for improvement I will continue to explore more efficient ways to transition my students as I become a more experienced teacher.
Finley, T. (2017, March 13). Mastering classroom transitions. Edutopia.