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Monday, April 26, 2010

Classroom Management Tip #10: Buy a Kitchen Timer

When I first started teaching I tried to time all assignments. Someone must have told me it was a good idea to do so. But, I had trouble with whiners. Whiners are students who expect to drag their feet during the assignment; and then, be given extra time at the end to complete the work they should have already finished. A Whiner argues with the teacher and tries to justify orally why he/she should receive extra time. What does this do? All work stops while the whiner talks. The other students then start talking among themselves while you are trying to get the whiner to be quiet. In other words classroom discipline breaks down, it takes you at least 5 minutes to get everyone back on task, and you have lost control of the situation.

The solution to this problem is simple, buy a kitchen timer. If you tell your students that they have 15 minutes to complete an assignment, set the timer and when the timer goes off, work stops. The teacher will then collect the work, start the presentations, give the grades, and so on depending upon the outcome the teacher is trying to achieve. It is very easy to argue with the teacher but it is hard to argue with the timer. Now I know what you are thinking, what if the teacher misjudges the amount of time needed to complete the assignment? Then just walk over to the timer and give them a few more minutes by twisting the dial on the timer. No will be ever be the wiser and the timer still rules. Always use a timer that is has a twist dial because it is easier to manipulate without anyone else knowing and the tick tock creates a sense of urgency to complete your work.

Thirty five years later I am still addicted to a timer. If I go to a school and do a presentation for teachers, I take a timer. If I am demonstrating a lesson for students, I use a timer. If I was still a classroom teacher, I would use a timer. Timers make things objective, which is what they should be. Expecting time lines to be followed in your classroom is the key to increasing time on task for all students. Take charge and push your students to work harder and faster. We know there is a lot that needs to be learned and not much time to learn it in. Life is about timing why not your classroom?

For more Classroom Management Tips go to the Classroom Management Tips Page.

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