For many professors, managing the time in the classroom can pose a daunting challenge. Overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of material to cover, classes become jam-packed of material, exercises, and lectures, often without intentionality or consideration of pacing. Here are four tips to lesson development and classroom management that can help you keep classes engaging and manageable.
Attainable Agendas: for each class session, a clear agenda should be developed. This agenda should include a brief description of the tasks students will accomplish and the activities that will occur in the class, along with the allotted time for each activity. Having such an agenda can accomplish two things: first, students know what to expect of the upcoming class sessions and can prepare for the necessary activities, and second, having clearly delineated breakdowns of time per activity can help professors stay on track and move on within an appropriate amount of time. Read more here for help on developing realistic and engaging agendas for the college classroom.
Time Off and Time On: if you are teaching a longer class, consider breaking your class into segments and providing students small breaks in between. Some professors will provide a 15 minute break halfway through the class, while other professors might consider providing shorter 5-minute breaks more frequently. Much depends on the length and size of your class, as those factors can inform the necessity (or lack thereof) of a break in the first place.
Staying on Task: during class discussions, avoid allowing students to get off-topic in their discussion of the topic. While students may feel more comfortable talking about current events or pop culture instead of the assigned subject for discussion, encourage students to stay on task and delve deeply into the material. Eliminate distracting or off-topic talk, as well as disruptive talk such as personal conversations or arguments.
Use All The Time: finally, begin each class on time and end each class on time. If professors make clear to students that class will begin a few minutes behind schedule, that sends the message that class time is not valuable, making students unlikely to show up on time (if at all). Similarly, use all of your time, resisting the urge to let students go home early if it seems they have mastered the material, but be sure to let students go at the end of the period. As students are leaving, remind them what they can expect from the next class session to keep them focused on what is upcoming in the class.