It occurred to me recently that I am a terrible teacher on Monday and a decent one on Friday. This is because I teach the same high school lesson 12 times each week. I am terrible at estimating the amount of time each activity will take. My tendency is to overestimate, and that is a problem.
If the lesson plan involves three activities, and I come up two minutes short on each activity, that leaves six minutes of awkwardness at the end of the lesson. Unfortunately, a six-minute gap would be an improvement. The past two Mondays, I had over ten minutes to burn each class.
The standard way to deal with this problem is to have a few games ready at all times. You get to waste a few minutes, and the students love it. This isn’t possible for my classes. My students’ listening skills (most students, at least) are so low that I can’t explain how to play games without lots of demonstrations and translation.
This forces me to get my timing right. My goal for next week is to pack so much into the lesson plan that I can’t possibly finish it all in 50 minutes. I thought I’d done that this Monday, but I was wrong.
When I go backpacking, I have a rule for collecting firewood. Pile up a ridiculously large amount of firewood. So much that I could never possibly burn it all in one night….and then double it. I plan to apply the same rule to lesson planning going forward. With any luck, I’ll spend next week running out of time instead of staring at a classroom full of bored kids waiting for me to entertain them.
Until next time.