Time management can make all the difference in a sussessful science lesson. Do you find planning and preparing for teaching science a daunting task? Are you afraid of how much time hands-on activities will take? Are you nervous about how long the lab itself will take? Are you worried that the students will not be able to transition quickly to the next activity?Teaching science does take time. Here are a few tips for time management in the science classroom.
Time Management Tip #1: Gather all of the materials ahead of time.
Avoid trying to gather materials as the students enter the classroom. This creates chaos. There will also be some student who has a question or something else you need to be paying attention to. It is best practice to have the materials gathered before the class even walks in. I like to have students work in groups, so I would probably have six sets of materials set up and ready to go so that each group can collect their supplies when the time comes. Along the same lines, if you are planning on using technology in the lesson, have that ready and loaded before the students walk in. Also, make sure you’re technology is working properly before you begin the lesson and that you know how to use it.
Save the transition of students walking into science for important things like checking in with them and establishing your classroom expectations and community.
Time Management Tip #2: Ask Questions.
While the students are working in groups or individually, use this time to walk around and ask questions. This helps focus the students and keeps them on task. While students are working in groups, this is not the time for you to be prepping something else or grading. Use proximity to move about the classroom and ask focus questions that will help keep the students on task and moving forward. This will save you a lot of time!
Time Management Tip #3: Set a Timer
You will want to keep track of time or set a timer so that you can keep the lesson on track. Students in groups need plenty of verbal warnings for how much time they have left to complete an activity. If you want to have time to debrief at the end of the lesson or time for clean up, you need to plan that into the time of your lesson. Some teachers find a lot of benefit from setting a timer. When the timer goes off it is time for students to move on to the next activity.
Along the same lines, don’t try to cram too much into one lesson. It is okay to spread a lesson out over two days. It is much better to say to students, “We are going to wrap this up today and come back to it tomorrow.” , than it is to rush the big end of your lesson so that there is little closure.
Planning and preparation make for a smooth science lesson that is not rushed! Putting the time into the organization and preparation of your lessons will make this a much more positive experience for you and the students.
You might also like this blogpost, Three Tips for Managing Materials