Maximizing Instructional Minutes

There are only so many minutes in a day. The key is making the most out of each and every second! Today I am going to give you 5 tips for maximizing your instructional time. Because at the end of the day, the more we maximize our time, the more learning our students can do.

1) Attendance Routine

This is SOOOO important! It will save you serious headaches if your kiddos take care of attendance for you. There are so many ways to do this. I have seen really cool SMART board activities where students drag and drop their names. Since I like to have morning instructions written on my board, I use magnets. I have a magnet with each child’s name on my whiteboard. Students move their magnets from the “absent” side of the board to the “present” side of the board when they arrive in the morning. Then after lunch, they move them back to the “absent” side. This means that with just a quick glance, I can check to see if everyone is here. If there are some magnets on the “absent” side, I have an attendance monitor who reads out the names for me so that I can quickly input them into my attendance program. 

2) Cut out the Morning Work

I am blessed because all of my students arrive at school within the same 5 minute time frame. Because of this, I don’t use morning work. Instead, students move their attendance magnet and then read the SMART board to find out what materials they will need for our first lesson and where they should sit. (Read more about this below.) I start my first lesson within one minute of the second bell, 6 minutes after the first child has entered the school. I feel like this forces students to move with efficiency in the morning because they know that they will be missing important instruction if they dilly dally. 

3) Use Google Slides!

Google Slides are seriously my BEST friend! I love having directions, steps or questions ready on the SMART board so that my kiddos know what to do without asking me. In this manner, we can all focus on getting ready for instruction as quickly as possible. 

Most days we start with Writing so the board would read:
  • Step 1: Move Your Magnet
  • Step 2: Get your Writing Folder and ensure that you have a fresh writing booklet ready
  • Step 3: Get a pencil or a pen
  • Step 4: Sit next to your writing partner at the carpet
If you want to check out the slides that I use, you can find them HERE!

4) Use a Timer

I love the FREE website classroom timer! Just google it. You can choose from a bunch of free timers that students enjoy. Just be careful that your sound isn’t turned up too high, or you might startle the class when the timer is done. If you are giving students 30 minutes to write, set a 30 minute timer on the SMART board. Not only will this help kiddos to stay on task and use their time management skills, it will help you to time your writing conferences and to not accidentally go over time. 🙂

5) Transitions… Transitions… Transitions

The number one time eater in an upper elementary classroom is transition times! I always cringe when I see kiddos lined up for recess 5 minutes before the bell rings. Those minutes are precious! At the beginning of the year it is super important to teach students your expectations surrounding transitions. Discuss, Model and Practice the steps of each transition. I even recommend timing students and graphing their progress (a little math tie in!) Trust me… the time that you put into this at the beginning of the year will pay off HUGE for the next 9 months! Once kiddos have the routine down, you may even want to play music during your transition time. There are tons of classroom friendly spotify playlists. I am a huge fan of saying “by the time this song is over, you need to…” 

There you have it, my top 5 tips for maximizing instructional minutes in your upper elementary classroom. What would you add to the list? 

Have a sweet week 🙂
5 tips for maximizing instructional minutes in the classroom. Perfect for new and seasoned teachers.

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