Teachers need to feel like they have eight arms.
One of the hardest thing to teach my student teachers is that they can’t have tunnel vision. They need to be able to multi-task and be able to do many things in a short amount of time.
It is important to prioritize the needs of the class and the school. This involves practicing effective time management.
During a class period I would have to do things like: greet students, take attendance, pass out graded work, teach a new assignment, pass out new assignments, worked with students who needed help, dealt with classroom interruptions from other people, collected finished work, assigned homework, give feedback to students and all of this was done usually in a 50 minute period.
One of the things that I have done is to make sure that I can answer my students’ questions when they need me. But it is hard when many hands go up all at once. So, what I did was glue green and red foam board together. Then I cut small 3 inch squares from them. On the green side, I used a marker and wrote OK. On the red side I wrote Help! This square stayed on the corner of their desk. It stayed on the green side until they needed help. Then they turned it over to the red side. As I walked around the room I was able to see which students needed help. They didn’t get tired of keeping their hands raised which sometimes kept them from working. They also knew that they didn’t have to keep watching me so they could get my attention when I finished helping another student.
I was amazed at how this helped control behavior problems in the class and also helped my students have more success.
This procedure also helped me when I was interrupted by a message from the office or a phone call or the many other things that would draw my attention away from a student.
Original photo by Pat Hensley