Managing Class Time Effectively

As we have said in previous tips, students arrive in our classrooms increasingly more consumer-minded every year, and evermore sensitive to the value that their courses are adding to their lives. It is critical therefore to display classroom management practices that are sensitive to their needs, but also ensure the integrity of our teaching. The following suggestions should enable you to do both:

  • Begin each class meeting, as well as sessions following a break, on time. Delaying starting or re-starting the class simply invites more students to be late. Those who return late to a class already in session typically "get the message" the first
  • Develop and use an agenda for each class meeting. In it identify the approximate time each item should require, and stick to it. Some effective instructors even write their agenda on the chalk or marker board prior to class, using it as an "advance organizer" and easy rationale for moving past unproductive time wasters.
  • If you are inhibited in your effort to move to the next agenda time by prolonged, unproductive discussions, simply invite the students involved to see you, or each other, during break or at the end of class.
  • Energize your class throughout each meeting with questions - both rhetorical and didactic, which foster refocusing on your agenda items of greatest concern. You might also integrate current news items, encouraging students' mental connections between sometimes "dry theory" and everyday life.
  • Resist the temptation when students appear especially fatigued to dismiss the class early. Invariably you will have students who had to sacrifice in order to attend class and such actions frustrate them and foster a perception of their not getting their money's worth. Giving in to requests to dismiss early makes it more difficult to resist in the future, further aggravating the strong, sacrificing students, as well as those who badly need all of the time on the learning task they can get.
  • Consider blocking out a period of time occasionally to provide one-on-one tutoring to individual students. This might be accomplished while remaining students are engaged in a cooperative learning or some other more individualized activity.
  • Before dismissing each class, be sure to summarize and confirm the value of each class meeting, and provide an overview for the following meeting that provides an "advance organizer" to foster their mental preparation.

Managing class time effectively is a clear indicator that the professor is a true seasoned professional, dedicated to the success of each student.

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