How To Maximise Your Students’ Learning Time

To have high expectations for your students, you must demonstrate and model high expectations for yourself and how you operate. Maximise student learning by making the most of the time you have with them.

Make the most of all the time you have with your students and show that you value their time by being prepared with tasks, resources and work that is meaningful and relevant. Don’t waste time on trivial activities, busy work and fillers. Make every moment count!

When you keep students engaged in meaningful learning, there is less likelihood that they will become bored, distracted and disruptive. So it’s a win/win!


Here are 9 strategies that you can incorporate into your daily routine so that learning time is maximised consistently:


1. Do Now Activities. Provide short relevant tasks for students to do in ‘dead time’. For example, have a 3-5-minute task they complete as they enter the classroom. This could be a quick revision of the last lesson, a stimulus for new learning or a lateral thinking exercise.


2. Early finishers. Provide additional learning that students can do when they finish early. Be mindful to make these tasks interesting and inviting, not more of the same. You don’t want students to feel as though they are being punished for completing their work!


3. Marking the roll. Develop an efficient roll marking process. While marking the roll is a legal requirement, it doesn’t have to encroach on valuable learning time. Use the ‘Do Now’ time to quickly note absent students, have students mark themselves off on the IWB or play a name game with younger students.


4. Talk less. Minimise teacher talk by scheduling your lesson into blocks of instruction followed by a variety of student-centred activities and processing time. People can listen for a limited amount of time, so keep your instruction time developmentally appropriate (teenagers can listen for 15 minutes’ max!) and then give students time to process the information by reflecting, writing, drawing or discussing.


5. Provide structures for group/paired work. Use pairing and grouping tools to make transitions to cooperative learning time efficient and varied. There are numerous techniques (Kagan, David Langford, Barrie Bennett) that can make the process quick and easy, guaranteeing that students learn to work with a variety of people.


6. Teach those who need it. Don’t teach the whole class when they don’t all need the instruction. Graham Nutthall’s research in The Hidden Lives of Learners, shows that teachers are often giving whole class instruction, when many of the students could be working on the task or directing their own learning.


7. Give clear directions combined with visual supports. Increase students chance of success and reduce the likelihood that you will need to give instructions more than once, by giving clear, succinct instructions supported by appropriate visual reminders of the task. Giving clear directions saves time and energy for teacher and student.


8. Encourage students to rely on each other. If you want more self-directed, independent learners, then teach your students to depend on each other rather than you. Give them strategies such as ‘3 before me’ where they consult 3 sources (people or resources), before they ask you a question. This strategy works best when you teach the skill explicitly and give students a chance to practise.


9. Telling is not teaching. Ensure that you are using effective strategies to teach your students. Ask them for feedback on how engaging, meaningful and relevant your lessons are and ways to improve. Remember that students need to interact with material at least 3 times in different ways before it is authentic learning.