Time Management and Lessons

Time management - for teachers; Tips to be organised - for learners; Personal Experience - Polina Kryukova.

How to master time management

Some teachers spend hours planning for their lessons while others spend no time at all. And while the latter may have wonderful creative lessons full of fun and practice it leaves a lot to pure chance. On the other hand, following the plan word for word can be restrictive, boring and will not always cater to your students’ specific needs. So, we believe that it is important to have a plan but allow room for the unexpected.

Before we approach time management in the lesson let’s review how lesson planning works on the whole.

1. Planning

To begin with, every lesson is a part of a curriculum, a course or a series of lessons. So we cannot think of it as a separate unit, but a link in the chain. When you think of what you will teach, these are the things you should consider:

- What you covered in the previous lessons

- What you are going to study next

- What your students’ short-term and long-term goals are

- What your students’ current needs and problems are

Taking all of these into account will allow you to create relevant lessons cohesive with the program on the whole.

2. Communication bridge

Think of how you can incorporate revision and further activation into your lesson. It can also be a good idea to create a communication bridge between the last topic and the next, to allow smooth transition. 

3. Balance

When planning a sequence of lessons remember to maintain a balance of the skills your students will practice and activities you are going to use to do that. What you can do is distribute the study of skills and exponents throughout the series of lessons (a week or two weeks) to maintain a well-balanced improvement.

4. Activities

The next step is to consider who your students are. Is it an individual, a pair, a small group or a large group? This will define the range of tasks you can use like pairwork and groupwork, mingling activities, debates and roleplays. 

5. Dynamic 

The next step is to think what kind of dynamic you usually have in class. Are your students slow-paced or fast-paced? Are they talkative, quiet or mixed?

6. Objectives:

“What are my students going to be able to do at the end of the class that there were not able to do at the beginning?” Almost every activity you are planning for the lesson should be aimed at achieving those specific objectives. Remember that not every lesson must have a specific objective and those objectives do not always have to dictate what is happening on the lesson.

ORGANISING THE LESSON TIME-WISE

Warm up

Usually it takes from 5 to 10 minutes. Discuss the news, plans, anything personal. Play a little revision game. 

Lead in and approach

Depending on your approach you will have a different type of a lead in. You may use PPP - presentation - practice - production.
Presentation - you generate the context, elicit the model sentence and after that focus on form and meaning.
Practice - this is guided practice usually in the form of a speaking activity, like making examples, answering questions, playing a game.
Production - learners have an opportunity to use the model more freely, as in a discussion, debate, roleplay.
This type of the lesson has a communication activity only at the end of the lesson, but it is possible to use it at the beginning, not only with higher levels but also with false beginners and elementary level students. Starting your lesson with a communication task will make it more student-centered, will draw on their existing knowledge and language capacity and may create or reinforce the desired need for specific language items, which will make the following presentation more meaningful. 

Plan for problems and mistakes. 

If you anticipate what kind of difficulties your students may encounter or what questions may emerge you will be armed to the teeth and almost nothing will be able surprise you. If you are going to do a reading task, look through the text and think what lexical units are unfamiliar to your students, what may hinder understanding. It can be a good idea to pre-teach some of these or ask your students to read for gist and ignore the things they do not understand. Same goes for listening activities. As for speaking, think of what your students might want to say based on their unique backgrounds, language 1 interference and interests. If you come from the same country as your students this will be not so difficult to predict.

Assess the time

Think about how long it usually takes your students to complete similar tasks and also what could pose difficulties to them. Keep track of the time spent on each exercise and assess how much time is left. If you feel you do not have enough to finish the next thing you have planned, do revision, give feedback or use a filler activity instead. Sometimes it is possible to give the remaining exercises as homework or use them in the next lesson as a warm-up.

Materials

Tasks should provide some form of challenge, push learners beyond their limits and help improve their level. If the tasks are too easy the students may get bored and lose their motivation. And the same can be said for the activities that are far above your students’ capabilities. Look through the materials carefully and see if they are appropriate to their level and knowledge.

Objectives of the lesson.

As was mentioned earlier, everything you do in the lesson should serve a specific purpose, including filler activities. Do not simply hop from one task to another with no order, for this will seem chaotic and poorly planned.

Students’ interests

Before starting to plan your lesson, think where your students’ interests lie, what they would like to learn and how they would use it in their life. A group of adults might not want to talk about video games (unless you know they like it), not all people are into politics or literature. If you have to teach certain vocabulary, try to adapt it to what your students will want to talk about, and think how it might concern them personally.

In conclusion, plan your lessons according to the students’ level, needs and goals, think of their interests and how the materials may address those. Keep track of the time during the lesson and do not start doing anything big if you feel you won’t have enough time to finish it. Have a few filler activities at hand that you could easily adapt to the aims of the lesson and use them if needed. Plan your lessons like you would outline a plot of the story and there will be cohesion and continuity. Prepare for the problems and be ready to discard your plan altogether if students are enthusiastic about something and are benefitting from it.


10 Proven Time Management Skills You Should Learn Today

How well do you manage your time? If you are like many of us, your answer may be “Not too well.” You may often feel like there is not enough time in a day. Perhaps you even find you constantly have to work late hours to hit your deadlines. Maybe you even feel too busy that you miss meals and sleep. These are all classic signs that you may not be managing your time effectively.

If you manage time properly you find the right balance between your work, leisure and rest time. You effectively accomplish the things that matter most in your life. On top of that, you reduce your stress level and feel a lot happier. To help you manage time more effectively, here are ten proven time management skills you should learn today.

1. Set Goals

Start by asking yourself where you want to be in six months time. You can go further and look at where you want to be in the next year or even decade from now. Set personal and professional goals that are realistic and achievable. This is a  crucial step toward ensure you manage your time better.

2. Prioritize

Prioritizing cannot be overemphasized when it comes to effective time management. It can be difficult to know what tasks to tackle first, especially when a flood of tasks all seem urgent. It is, however, relatively easy to prioritize activities if you have clear goals already set. Ask yourself three basic questions to know what tasks should take first priority:

  • Why am I doing this task or activity?

  • How does this task help me achieve my goals?

  • To what extent does this task I’m doing help me achieve my goals?

Do the most important things first.

3. Keep a Task List

Keeping a to-do list helps you remain organized and on top of things. It helps break things down into small, manageable tasks or steps so that you never forget to do the important stuff. Don’t try to remember everything you need to do in your head. In most cases, trying to remember everything won’t work. Instead, keep a to-do list.

Write down the things you need to do, including meetings, appointments and deadlines. Cross out completed tasks as often as you add new tasks on your task list to ensure you keep moving forward.

4. Schedule Tasks

If you are a morning person and find you are at your most creative and productive early in the morning, schedule high-value tasks in the morning at your peak creative/productive time. If your creativity and energy picks up when the sun is setting, schedule high priority tasks then. Your “down” time can be scheduled for less important tasks like checking e-mail or returning phone calls.

5. Focus on One Task at a Time

Forget multitasking. You don’t get on top of your workload by multitasking. Focus more on completing one task at a time. Completing tasks in sequence one at a time leads to better use of time, says the study researchers. Switching from one task to another does not usually lend itself to good use of time.

6. Minimize Distractions

Distractions break your concentration, lower your productivity and often prevent you from completing important tasks on time. They can also cause stress.

Identify what is distracting you from doing core tasks and put a stop to it. Kill that television and turn off your Internet connection and IM chat. Put up a “Do not disturb” or similar sign at the entrance of your dedicated work space to prevent interruptions.

7. Overcome Procrastination

Don’t put off tasks that you should be focusing on right now and let procrastination steal your time. Remind yourself that the best time to do somethings is usually NOW. Push yourself a little harder to beat procrastination and get what needs to be done DONE.

An effective strategy to beat procrastination is to tell yourself you are only going to embark on a project for a few minutes, say ten minutes. Once you start the project, your creative juices will start flowing. You will then find you want to continue with the task and quite possibly take it to the end.

8. Take Breaks

Squeeze short breaks in between work for down-time. Ideally, take a five minute break every hour or two to rest and think creatively. You may set an alarm to remind you when your break is due. Stop working and just sit and meditate at your desk or go out for a cup of coffee or short walk. Don’t forget to give yourself ample time for lunch too. You can’t work optimally on an empty stomach.

9. Say “No”

Say “no” amicably to everything that doesn’t support your values or help you achieve your goals. You have the right to say “no” no matter who you are talking to. When you get better at saying “no,” you put you time to good use and defend yourself from rushed work, poor performance and work overload.

10. Delegate Tasks

You can’t manage everything on your own. Sometimes it is prudent to let other people help you with tasks, especially when you are swamped. Delegating is not dumping. Give tasks with consequences. This way you promote accountability and ensure goals and deadlines are met.

Read full article here.


PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

As a young teacher fresh off the boat of a linguistic university that was my Alma Mater I was bright-eyed and ready to embark upon my independent educators journey. There started my series of working for different schools each having their own vision and ideas about how lessons should go and what I should do in them.
Some demanded that I use a specific textbook, studying one unit at a time. Others gave me a detailed lesson plan where every minute was accounted for. To improvise was to fail and I diligently followed my instructions. Until one day I was offered a position in a school which changed my life, no less. (And I am still working there, be assured!)

What was different about that school is that I was given free reign over what I wanted to do, the materials to use, the time spent on various activities. I was only expected to provide a lesson plan of sorts, just a small list of things I was going to do in class. At that very moment I realised I had absolutely no experience planning for lessons. Do not get me wrong, I had been trained to do that, I had written detailed lesson plans and I had even used them a few times, but I had no real hand-on skill nor an understanding of what might affect the time spent on each activity and such.

It took me three hours to plan for my first 60-minute lesson. I had meticulously written out every minute, every little thing I was going to do and say. My forehead was wet with perspiration because it was dawning on me that if I had to do that every single time I would go nuts. In reality we managed to use less than a half of what I had so carefully planned.

And so I tried again and again and again. I asked questions, made mistakes and then I didn’t learn from them and made them again. I didn’t plan at all, I printed too many materials, I overprepared and underprepared and here are some personal tips I will give you.

Tip1. Know your audience.
Most of the time the lesson plan went askew was when we got overexcited about a topic and just kept talking about it. That is fine, but you should prepare for it and not let it completely override what you had prepared for. A warm up shouldn’t last more than 20% of the lesson time, for instance. But a debate can consume more than a half of the lesson.

Tip2. Take the lead.
Do not let your students hold the reigns of the lesson. As a teacher you will know better what is more beneficial to them and their skills at the moment.

Tip3. Respect their time.
On more than one occasion I stayed with my students after the lesson was over. For as long as 30 minutes. I just wanted to finish everything I had planned. And although some will see it as determination and devotion, others may see it as sloppiness. Which it was. My students have other things to do and other places to be and by repeatedly keeping them in class I didn’t respect that. I also didn’t think about the expectations I was setting and the bad precedence. My time should be as precious as theirs and we should stay within the given frames.

Tip4. Let go.
You can’t prepare for every eventuality, no matter how much you try. Listen to your guts and let go of the plan if you feel that your students are having a breakthrough and it is more important to let them speak out.


That’s all for now!
Stay Amazing ♥️