Tag Archive: time management

You Own the Clock (the clock doesn’t own you)

Teachers like students to come to class on time.  We value their presence when the class starts.  We mark them tardy when they enter late and we remind them of the need to be in their seats and ready to go when the class begins.  We say “we have lots to cover today and we need to get going.”  (Just FYI – “cover” is not a very useful word for teachers to use, but more on that in a later post.)  We love a good starting time.  


Most students don’t see a great need for a crisp beginning.  However, they do see the need for a prompt ending and that is where many teachers let them down. Teachers are like cars with great accelerators and lousy brakes.  Once we get talking, we can keep talking for a long time.  And even if we don’t say it we are thinking “Here’s one more good thing they need to know”, so we press on.  We also love to say things like “look at the clock, where did all the time go”.  So here is the free tip of the day: when you interject the element of time into your conversation with students you have opened the door for them to get antsy and lose focus.  They start thinking of where they have to be next and how long it will take them to get there and I need to pack up my things and I’m going to be late and when will he stop talking.  Every student has a life outside of my classroom and I need to honor that.


The starting time of a class is for the teacher.  Class ending time is for the students.  The sooner you can convince your class by word and deed that you will always honor the hour and that they will be able to leave on time, the more they can relax and trust you and the more engaged they will be.  I watched a teacher one time say to her class about 5 minutes before the ending time “Since you were so talkative at the beginning and we didn’t get much accomplished then, we are going to stay five minutes longer.  I prepared this lesson for you and I need to give it to you.”  I died a little with the students, who at that moment stopped caring about the lesson and gave even less thought to how much time she spent on preparation.  It was just a hard march to the end.  

What would cause a teacher to go overtime? Often teachers say that they just lost track of time, which is understandable and easy to do. A solution to that is simply to remember that part of controlling the class is to control the time and the pacing and to begin to make it a part of what you do as a teacher. Another reason suggested by teachers is that the class was going so well, or the students were so engaged, that it was just difficult to stop. In almost all of those cases, I have observed that it wasn’t so much the students who were engaged but the teacher was engaged in telling a story or sharing some of his thoughts and feelings with the class. When a teacher holds a class over so that he can keep talking, the class generally has descended to teaching-as-telling, and that is a very ineffective way for students to learn.  

Here are a couple of tips to help you stay on schedule in a gentle way:

1.       Think of timekeeping issues as you prepare your lesson. Ask yourself some of these questions: “About how long do I think this discussion will go?” “What follow up questions are likely to ensue from this main question?” “What are some of the points I hope will emerge from this activity?” “How much time do we need at the end of class to allow for effective application?” And finally this question may be the most important: “What are we really trying to do in class today – cover a lot of material or help students really learn some important principles and doctrines?”

2.        Make yourself aware of timekeeping issues in a class. Learn to glance at the clock or your watch on a regular basis. Make some small but easily seen marks on your lesson plan of the approximate times that you expect to be at certain spots. Stay aware of where you are and where you would like to be.

3.       Students rarely, if ever, know how much a teacher thinks he needs to accomplish in a given period. We make time our enemy when we play slave to the clock, then verbalize it to the class (“Look at the time – there’s never enough time!”). Be sufficiently aware of where you are so that students will have enough time to digest what is going on and you will have enough to be able to challenge them to make positive changes, all within the framework of the allotted time. Announcing your frustration with the lack of time only serves to pass that frustration on to them. They don’t need it and it doesn’t help anything.

Finally, here is something I learned from watching cooking shows with my wife and daughters: let the meat rest.  When a piece of meat has been cooked, it is best to let it sit for some minutes before cutting and serving it so that the juices can re-absorb into the meat and not drain out if the meat is sliced too soon.  I like to stop teaching about 5 minutes before the end of class and let things settle and ask students what they learned and what they are thinking from the lesson.  It gives them a chance to think about the lesson, make some decisions about how they will apply it, and we all end on time.

Time Management

This document was submitted by Shannon. It is a handout she created based on text found at CollegeBoard.com with a few “LDS” touches. 2 per page, color, 8 1/2 x 11 inches. The text reads: Time Management Tips For High School Students www.collegeboard.com It’s 10:00 — Do You Know Where Your Homework Is? Does it seem like there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done? Feel like…
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Avoid Stress

5 Ways to Reduce Stress is based on the article by Paula J. Lewis, “Five Ways to Reduce Stress,” Liahona, Sept. 2000, page 24. The text reads: 1. Prioritize by separating the essential from the nonessential. (Essentials include rest, nutritious food, prayer, exercise, Church callings and attendance, and scripture study. Non-essentials depend on your circumstance.) 2. Take a break with a half-hour nap, a walk, or other activity. 3. Ask…
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Making Time in our Life for the Lord Pays Off

Object Lesson

Beforehand, fill the jar with large rocks, then pour rice into the jar with the rocks until the rice fills all the empty space between the rocks.  Then pour the rice and rocks out of the jar and put them into separate containers.  LESSON:  It is hard to fit everything in our lives.  Almost everyone struggles with finding enough time.  This object lesson demonstrates how putting the things of the…
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Personal Progress

Object Lesson

Show the puzzle box and ask the girls how they would feel doing this puzzle. Hopefully you’ll get answers such as it looks difficult, it would take a lot of time, there are so many small pieces… Then relate the puzzle to Personal Progress. It may look difficult, it may look like it will take a lot of time and there may seem to be so many value experiences that…
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Prioritizing

Object Lesson

Explain that the container represents time – it is a limited thing, the rice represents everything that we need to get done and the balls represent the important things (you can relate these to the lesson eg prayer, fasting, scripture study, etc). Pour the rice into the container and then balls and try to close the lid (it shouldn’t fit). Then demonstrate the otherway round with the balls first and…
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Time management / Procrastination

Object Lesson

Get two volunteers. Give each volunteer 10-30 square childrens ABC blocks. (amount depends on what age you are working with, they will be stacking the blocks, so young children will not be able to stack as many) Tell the volunteers that they have an assignment to stack as many blocks as they can. One person will get approx. 10 seconds while the other gets 1 minute (again vary time according…
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Time Management

Object Lesson

Our YW lesson was on Time Mangagement. I arranged for our YW President to separate the girls into classes and when it came time for my lesson in the Laurel class, she used her theatrical experience :) and vocally wondered where I was. I was outside the door waiting for her to peek her head out “looking for me”. I then came running into class-with my manual in hand, slippers…
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Put the Big Rocks in First

Object Lesson

One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget. As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen…
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