It’s no surprise that high-performing schools are extremely vigilant about how they use their time. We teachers know that there are a million and one distractions and things that interrupt student learning every day. Restroom breaks, people coming and going, students leaving during our lessons for interventions, calls over the intercom from the office during a HUGE lightbulb moment, etc.
Unfortunately for us, these distractions and interruptions are typically things out of our control. But, in the same breath, we all want to be successful. We all want to be a part of those high-performing schools. But how in the world do we fit it all in when both ourselves and our students are pulled in a million and one directions? The simple answer: Make every minute count.
I’m here with some great ideas to help you maximize learning in the classroom.
As educators, we know this. We know that we need to tap into all 30+ of our students’ personalities every single day and for every single subject to get them interested and engaged. We know that the sign of a great lesson is when hands are up, heads are nodding, and discussions are not only on task, but deep and meaningful. When lessons like this happen we want to fist pump the air in excitement.
But, there isn’t a one-size fits all approach to planning lessons that are engaging for our students. We have to meet the needs of the individuals in our own classrooms and cater to their needs. Not to mention we have to plan lessons that we are comfortable with and our students are comfortable with.
Heck, if standing on tables and performing a complete song and dance about dividing decimals gets the point of across, then do it. I have.
All jokes aside, here are some quick ideas to help you maximize time on task and increase student engagement:
- Have a strong management plan. Every single movement, direction, transition, etc. must have a plan that all students know. Everything from the supplies students will need for the lesson, organization of materials, where students can find things they need in the classroom, etc. When this is a well-oiled machine, you’re maximizing time for your lesson and student’s time on task.
- Plan mini-lessons in short meaningful chunks. Quick blasts of instruction allow students to focus on the entire lesson.
- Build strong relationships with your students. Know them as people.
- Know how your students learn best.
- Encourage students to build strong relationships with their peers. The number one reason why students aren’t engaged or participate in class is fear.
- Create a classroom environment that promotes a culture of learning.
- Create high expectations of your students so they know that they need to be on top of their game at every possible second.
- Have fun teaching. Your kids emulate you. When you love it, they will love it too.
- Make your classroom so much fun that students don’t want to miss.
- Create as many home to school contacts as possible. Call as often as possible, make home to school visits, invite parents in for anything and everything possible. If parents feel welcome and invited they will do everything in their power to make sure their child comes to school every day.
- Reward and recognize strong attendance both school-wide and in your own classroom. A simple bulletin board, or monthly celebration with hand-made certificates means so much to those students!