Curriculum · Students · Teachers

The importance of timing

“The Sun will rise and set regardless. What we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us.” – Alexandra Elle

I try my darnedest to make the most of the 45 minutes of “light” I am given to divide among 25 or so students every day. But sometimes, unannounced interruptions make that hard…

Our school resource officer (read: police officer) invited himself (well, he did ask me very nicely first, but the only acceptable answer was clearly yes) to speak for about a minute to one of my classes today. I truly didn’t mind at the time, because I figured that, if he was going door to door to make a speech to the entire grade level, it must have been pretty damn important.

But at the end of class, I had multiple students who had not finished their quizzes yet. I thought about this today: how most of my students in most of my classes finished, but not them, and it really took my a while to figure out that there had been any difference. But I now see that this is yet another example of how even subtle differences – the number or depth of questions kids ask, the minutes I give them for the Do Now at the beginning of class, the jokes and fun facts I choose to include or not include in each class – make all the difference with timing.

I can in no way say that I have the pacing of my lesson down to a science – in fact, I often find myself rushing through or skipping something, as a chronic over-planner (in my personal and professional life – I’m working on it…) – but I definitely know how to time things by the end of the day, when I’ve already taught the same lesson three or four times. I am continually amazed by how something so seemingly inconsequential as 60 seconds can affect the outcome of my class.

Me giving my students a speech on life skills or behavior (or whatever it is I feel like their class needs a speech on) can determine whether or not we have time for an exit ticket. A student telling a story irrelevant to the lesson can necessitate eliminating a check for understanding later on.

Or…a police officer warning the kids to act right or lose their recess time can result in them not having adequate time to finish their quiz.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not blaming the SRO for anything. I’m just being incredibly reflective on the difference a minute makes.

Does everyone else have the same issue? Are your lessons really so tight as to not allow for a single distraction? Should I factor in more flex time during my teaching? And if I am, per chance, NOT interrupted during a specific class period…what would I do with the extra time at the end?!

B T Bubble Sheet


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