Time management in a classroom with YLs
Time management is one of the most challenging things in teaching. If done not well, it can result in chaos and confusion, non-productivity and stressful classroom environment.
We know that it is quite hard to manage a classroom of young learners in general. They get distracted very easily, they look for fun, they try to avoid constructive tasks if they are boring, etc. So, let’s look at some ideas that can help to manage time better during lessons with kids.
— Get rid of distractors
Make sure there are no distractions in the classroom. Anything that can distract the learners from a task can crash the activity that you’ve planned. Let’s say, flashcards with pictures of animals having nothing to do with numbers when your aim is to teach numbers can be distractors.
— Set up the pace
Decide what your students will be doing clearly. Planning to the very last detail is very important when working with young learners. You need to make sure there are no time gaps. In other words, you need to consider the learning pace of your students (fast finishers, late finishers) and plan accordingly. Task differentiation is important to create a favourable learning environment.
— Have a back-up plan
You know that not everything that you have planned always works on a specific day of teaching. To anticipate problems is not an easy task, however, having a Plan B task in case Plan A doesn’t work can save a lot of time. With young learners, it’s better to have a game/energizer/cooler which will stimulate your class accordingly.
— Set up some ground rules
Even young learners need to follow some rules. Rules can be posted on the walls on posters for them to always have them in front of the eye. This will help to have some organization and strategy. Let’s say, students need to know that questions should be held until the teacher finishes explaining the activity, or that they can speak only in turn. This will not only save time but also have a positive effect on classroom management in general.
— Use fewer words
One of the time-eaters is Teacher talking time (TTT) when working with young learners and not only. This is quite hard to control as you try to make sure they have understood the task, you want to react to all their comments, so that they don’t feel left out. Instead, try using more body language instead — pointing, showing, demonstrating, using keywords, slowing down the speech, smiling, nodding, etc. Let’s say, a student said ‘Oh, now I understand…’. Instead of replying ‘Well done! See how easy it was’, there can be a simple smile to cover it all. This doesn’t mean that teacher encouragement should be completely eliminated, but a more proper time should be chosen for that, e.g. after the class, in a 1 to 1 meeting, etc.
— Encourage collaboration
No matter what the age of the learners is, it is crucial to teach them the basic skill of collaboration and communication. Have students work in pairs, have strong learners assist the weaker ones. It will save a lot of time on the part of the teacher’s talk and explanation as, let’s say, the students who have understood the task and the procedure will help the weaker ones to catch up, saving the teacher the trouble of repeating the same instruction for several times.
All in all, to make sure our sessions are efficient and goal-oriented, it is vital to manage our classroom and time as best as we can.