Increase Time On Task Through Tighter Transitions

Thank you to reader Mary for the following question in response to my last post:

Can you share more what/how you reflect on classroom management?

And now my reply:

To me an overarching classroom management objective is maximizing on-task time—for students and teachers. I’ve shared in prior posts some strategies that serve this purpose, so check those out if you haven’t already (just click on the “Classroom Management” category). But one key area I haven’t addressed much in prior posts is transitions. Early in my career I lost lots of time ending one activity and starting (or trying to start) another. The problem was that kids were zoning out or acting out between activities because I was giving them opportunities to do so.

Eventually I realized that I needed to have something constructive for students to do at ALL times. Whereas, for example, I once collected the daily class opener before getting students started on something else, I later put off collecting it until I had replaced it on the overhead with another activity. And thanks to that and other similar efforts to tighten my transitions, I experienced a dramatic, immediate increase in teaching/learning time.

One other point in response to Mary’s question: there’s often overlap between effective classroom management and effective instruction. Take a look at my earlier posts The Overhead Projector: Don’t Overlook It and Assessing Through Asking for examples of what I’m talking about.

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