The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 30 2012

It’s (Not) All in the Timing

Day 19: I couldn’t tell if my kids noticed, but I did. I had budgeted 20 minutes for the quiz they had just begun. I looked anxiously over my left shoulder and saw 10:42 on the clock. As in, seven minutes left until the bell. I found myself irrationally hoping that maybe, for some odd reason, this particular class could find it in themselves to move twice as fast as I’d imagined they would.

No such luck. On cue, seven minutes later, the bell rang. Most students kept working; J snapped her head up from her quiz with an expression of dismayed fear across her face. I quietly told the class to keep working for another two minutes. When the second bell rang – the one signaling that my class should now be moving to its next destination – I asked who needed more time at lunch. About 15 hands went up. I collected the quizzes and sent my kids on their way.

This repeated itself fourth period. And it happened again seventh period. Seventh period, I was saved by the Spanish teacher, who had underplanned and let me take an extra 10 minutes of eighth period, during which I didn’t have a class. My third and fourth period kids came during lunch and afterschool, and for the most part, all of the quizzes got done.

I tell this story because it reveals one of my greatest weaknesses as a teacher, at least so far this year – timing. Somehow, I manage to dismiss classes late about half the time. This means both that I don’t get as far as I wanted to in class, and that I take time away from the next teacher (something they’re usually not thrilled about). I’m not sure where this failure to pace well comes from. Am I trying to pack in too much stuff? Am I taking too many questions? Should I not be doing think-pair-shares every other nanosecond?

The silver lining here is that my kids came at lunch and after school to finish their quizzes with zero complaints, something I’m taking to mean the kids are well-invested in my class. But still, there are only so many times I can ask kids to give up their free time before they start to take offense, and only so many times I can apologize to the English teacher for sending him a class three minutes late. I’m putting timing up there as the thing I can most work on next week, and let’s see if next Friday’s quizzes actually get done before the bell.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

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