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Special Services in the Schools

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Time Management in the Classroom:

Cathy Collins
School of Education, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX, 76129
Published online: 23 Oct 2008.

To cite this article: Cathy Collins (1990) Time Management in the Classroom:, Special Services in the
Schools, 5:3-4, 131-153, DOI: 10.1300/J008v05n03_08

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Time Management in the Classroom:
Increasing Instructional Time
Cathy Collins
Texas Christian University
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SUMMARY. Many special services providers want to assist class-

room teachers in using instructional time more wisely. Unfortu-
nately, prior to this publication, few aids were available to assist in
this effort.
The purpose of this paper is to inform special services providers
about tune management so that they can assist classroom teachers
and other special service personnel to increase student success. In
the course of this discussion, I will explore: (a) means of diagnosing
teachers with time-management problems, (b) procedures that build
their time-use skills, and (c) methods of teaching students to use
their time more effectively.


Classroom teachers can misuse time in the following ways and
thereby reduce at-risk students' chances for success.

1. They can be ineffective monitors of in-class time, lacking

skills of simultaneously nianaging time, resources, and stu-
dents, which are needed to provide the security base at-risk
students need to begin to grow.

Requests for reprints should be directed to: Cathy Collins. School of Educa-
tion, Texas Christian University, P.O. Box 32925, Fort Worth, TX 76129.
O 1990 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. 131

2. They can have weak organizational skills which, in turn, de-

crease the quality of time and time given to instmction.
3.'They schedule improperly so that the time allocated, both
within and between lessons, does not match that which most
at-risk students need to achieve at their maximum rate.
4. They. can be ineffective in managing their time, which limits
their availability to meet individual student needs.

More importantly, most classroom teachers do not know that

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they are having difficulty managing time. They attribute classroom

problems to other causes (Collins, 1987). Because this inability is
an almost "natural blindness," called betriesblind, special services
providers can become valuable partners to regular education teach-
ers. Special services providers can help teachers reach a goal they
feel they need but, if left unaided, may not be able to achieve them-
selves. This goal is eliminating ways in which their decisions and
behavior in managing the class are limiting their students' success.
In the next section, several methods of managing classroom time
will be identified.

Helping Classroom Teachers Use Time

to Create a Security Base for Learning

In the course of careers, teachers enter school buildings that are

new to them. Yet, as they walk down the hall for the first time and
gaze at the activities in the classes, they can discern which teachers
are among the best in the building and which are not. Prior to the
study of time management, one could have justified these candid
evaluations (as well as the unexplained ability to make such rapid
distinctions) to the statement, "Good teachers are just born, not
made; good teaching is an innate ability."
Recent work in time management, however, has illuminated the
criterion upon which a distinction could be made: effective teachers
have the ability to simultaneously and continuously manage individ-
uals, resources, course content, and time (Collins, 1987; Wiggers,
Forney, & Wallace-Schutzman, 1983). This ability establishes an
environment in which students can more confidently engage in pur-
Classroom-Based Approaches in Promoting Student Success 133

poseful activities. One might be able to detect this involvement in

observing the effective teachers' rooms.
What time management skills are needed to establish such a se-
cure, nurturing environment? Recent work (McGraw, 1987) has
revealed that most at-risk students need to know that: (a) their day
will begin with a well-established procedure; (b) their lessons create
new opportunities for learning and are monitored so as to end with
enough time to make a stress-free transition to the next class or
subject; (c) their learning objectives are attainable yet challenging;
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and (d) their teacher has planned instructional alternatives in case

their learning needs are greater than the teacher originally judged.
Special services providers can present Table 1 to teachers need-
ing information in achieving (a) and (b) above. Such teachers can
study the table (a description of the procedures most successful
teachers use to open and close their classes), and adapt the proce-
dures to match their own personal teaching styles (Tschudin, 1978).
Clearly, it is very important to establish lessons with appropriate
objectives. Regular classroom educators, however, may not fully
realize that such objectives rely upon the use of effective time-use
skills. Further, they might benefit from discussions of how appro-
priate objectives increase students' learning time.
Specifically, when students are able to repeatedly complete their
learning objectives within the time allowed, they begin to trust
themselves to be successful. Some also begin to trust that their
teacher has the expertise to create a lesson that they can complete in
the allotted time. With such skilled and effective teachers, at-risk
students focus more attention upon learning, that is, they do not pay
as much attention to the amount of time they will need~tocomplete
the task or how much time they have left. They are assured that
their teacher has accurately judged time (and it is sufficient) so they
can pursue their part in learning, which is "putting that time to
good use."
If special services providers begin to suspect that a regular class-
room teacher has difficulty in establishing time-effective objec-
tives, they can help by having an informal discussion and by asking
some of the following questions:,

TABLE 1. Opening Class Procedures


Check o r a l l y from grade book.

Check s i l e n t l y from s e a t i n g c h a r t .
Have classroom o f f i c e r o r a d u l t v o l u n t e e r a i d e check t h e a t t e n d a n c e .
Give each s t u d e n t a number and have each c a l l o u t h i s o r h e r number
o r r a i s e h i s o r h e r hand a s you o r classroom o f f i c e r c a l l s o u t t h e

Your procedure:
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Have a s t a n d a r d procedure i n p l a c e s o s t u d e n t s know what they a r e

expected t o do w h i l e you have a d m i n i s t r a t i v e d u t i e s ; they should
not sit i d l e .
Have a timer and a s soon a s s t u d e n t s walk i n , s e t i t and then t e l l
them t h a t they have 3 ( o r 5 , e t c . ) minutes t o f i n i s h
. When time is up, you could have Linished t h e -
a d m i n i s t r a t i v e d u t i e s , and w i l l grade t h e s t u d e n t p a p e r s , forming a
100 percent c l u b o r o t h e r i n c e n t i v e program f o r p e r f e c t o r 80 p e r c e n t
p l u s vork.
Have s t u d e n t s w r i t e i n a d a i l y log. d i a r y type format, f o r a six-week
reward t h a t t h e c l a s s v a l u e s .
Display b r i e f assignments on overhead p r o j e c t o r s c r e e n o r blackboard
b e f o r e s t u d e n t s a r r i v e and l e e them work t h e mini-lessons a s soon a s
they v a l k i n ; t h e s e l e s s o n s could be reviews o f y e s t e r d a y ' s v o r k ,
i n t r o d u c t i o n s t o t h e l e s s o n of t h e day, b r a i n t e a s e r s , crossword puz-
z l e s f o r vocabulary development, o r l o g i c problems.

Your procedure:


Give o r a l e x p l a n a t i o n s of mental s e t , r a t i o n a l e , o b j e c t i v e , but a l s o

g i v e v i s u a l o u t l i n e of key p o i n t s on hoard, handout, o r overhead.
Specify s t a n d a r d s of form and l e v e l o f n e a t n e s s f o r each assignment,
o r g i v e a g e n e r a l s t a n d a r d t h a t s t u d e n t s o r e expected t o use always:
t e l l s t u d e n t s which s t a n d a r d you a r e u s i n g . I n c l u d e what head in^ you
p r e f e r , whether s t u d e n t s a r e t o w r i t e on back of paper. use pen o r
p e n c i l . e r a s e o r draw l i n e s through, how t o number. and vhac a r e t h e
due d a t e s ; and remind s t u d e n t s o f p o l i c y i f v o r k i s l a t e (e.g., p o i n t s
s u b t r a c t e d , s t a y i n g a f t e r s c h o o l , t u r n i n g i n assignments on time evcn
if incomplete) .
Post a sample heading aE an assignment and remind s t u d e n t s s e v e r a l
timea i n t h e e a r l y weeks of s c h o o l t o r e f e r t o i t and use i t .

Your procedure:
Classroom-BasedApproaches in Promoting Student Success 135

TABLE 1 (continued)
P o s t weekly assignment lists on b u l l e t i n b o a r d .
Each time a handout is g i v e n , p l a c e f i v e e x t r a c o p i e s i n an ongoin8
f o l d e r f o r a b s e n t e e s , p u t t h e d a t e on e a c h handout ( o r have c l a s s r o o m
o f f i c e r r e s p o n s i b l e f o r handing o u t p a p e r s , stamp d a t e s and f i l e hand-
o u t s ) ; a b s e n t e e s know where t p g e t i n f o r m a t i o n on missed work s o t h a t
i t c a n be completed b e f o r e t h e i r makeup d e a d l i n e has ended.
Decide how much time w i l l be allowed f o r makeup work and s t i c k t o i t .
f o r example, s t u d e n t s have a s p e c i f i c amount o f time a f t e r t h e i r r e -
t u r n t o s c h o o l t o complete a s s i g n m e n t s and one day a b s e n t means work
is done day a f t e r s t u d e n t r e t u r n s t o s c h o o l .
Decide i f t h e r e w i l l be a p e n a l t y and how much i t w i l l be f o r missed
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work and/or any p a p e r t u r n e d i n l a t e .

S e t a p l a c e where t h e s t u d e n t s c a n t u r n i n makeup work and where t h e y
can p i c k i t up a f t e r i t ' s been graded (e.p,.. c r a y s / f o l d e r s l a b e l e d
"absent in"1"absent o u t " ) and a l l o w s l o w e r l e a r n e r s t o prade and w r i t e
explanations on e a c h i n c o r r e c t answer a s t o why i t was i n c o r r e c t . If
anyone a s i d e from t h e t e a c h e r g r a d e s makeup p a p e r s o r i f t h e t e a c h e r
d e c i d e s t o g r a d e once e a c h week, then a system t o v e r i f y t h a t t h e
p a p e r s were t u r n e d i n w i t h i n t h e time p e r i o d allowed w i l l be needed.
S e t a time b e f o r e o r a f t e r when t h e t e a c h e r . v o l u n t e e r o l d e r s t u d e n t s .
o r c l a s s o f f i c e r w i l l be a v a i l a b l e t o h e l p s t u d e n t s w i t h makeup work.
E s t a b l i s h a p r o c e d u r e whereby c l a s s o f f i c e r s o r m o n i t o r s can u s c t h e
t e a c h e r ' s e d i t i o n of t h e c l a s s t e x t t o h e l p c l a s s m a t e s w i t h makeup
Your P r o c e d u r e :


I n i t i a t e a s c h o o l wide p o l i c y and encourage a l l t e a c h e r s t o n e v e r
make e x c e p t i o n s f o r t a r d i n e s s . For example, l e t t i n g a few s t u d e n t s
s l i p i n l a t e a t t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e p e r i o d might c a u s e t h e p r o c e d u r e s
t o b r e a k down.
Assign d e t e n t i o n u n l e s s t h e s t u d e n t h a s a l e g i t i m a t e excuse f o r t a r d i -
P l a c e a "t" i n t h e g r a d e book ( o r c l a s s r o o m o f f i c e r p l a c e s "t") e a c h
time a s t u d e n t i s t a r d y and t h e t a r d i n e s s r e s u l t s i n some t y p e of
a c t i o n on t h e s t u d e n t ' s p a r t .
Put c l i p b o a r d by t h e . d o o r and s t u d e n t s who a r e t a r d y s i g n i n when they
a r r i v e each p e r i o d and a t t h e end of t h e day; t h e t e a c h e r o r a c l a s s -
room monitor changes t h e a b s e n c e s t o t a r d i e s i n t h e g r a d e book.

Your Procedure:

1. What objectives were explained to students at the beginning of

the learning period?
2. Do student(s) know what activity is to be used to meet that
objective, in advance of beginning the activity?
3. Are the student(s) clear as to what they should feel, see, or

experience as a result of successfully completing the objec-


Through this communication the teacher might not only develop

better classroom time-use skills but at-risk students might be better
able to use their own time management skills to learn.
East of all, classroom teachers might create a more secure envi-
ronment by considering alternatives that can be built into a daily
lesson plan. ~onsidera%onof alternatives might be facilitated by
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teachers routinely asking the following questions about each lesson:

1. Can I use time during this lesson to vary the size of the group
in which students will work, vary the room arrangement,
spend more time using concrete objects, or enhance the learn-
ing experience by taking time to move to another location such
as outdoors or the cafeteria?
2. Have I allocated time to meet auditory, visual, tactile, and
kinesthetic learning needs? Have I incorporated the option of
using more than one modality in demonstrating mastery of the
learning objective?
3. What method of grading will give the fastest and most direct
feedback to students?
4. What amount, depth, and variety of coverage is expected as a
maximum and minimum learning?
5. What are the attention span demands of this lesson and do
these demands match the time of day and point in the year in
which the lesson will be delivered?

Another time-efficient way to provide for personal learning needs

is to use a notebook, or space in the lesson plan book, to list indi-
vidual student needs. In this way, after each lesson, time will be
scheduled to reteach the concept. This procedure should become
standard. That is, it must be practiced consistently before most at-
risk students feel secure enough to take learning risks in a heteroge-
neously grouped classroom.
Classroom-Based.Appmchesin Promoting Studen1 Success 137

Facilitating Classroom Teachers' Organizational Skills

so as to Impact the Quality of Their Instruction
Research has demonstrated that most time-efficient teachers, "in
the process of becoming," developed time-use skills and use a mas-
ter lesson plan (Collins, 1987; Green & Rasinski, 1985; 07Neal,
1984; andWyne & Stuck, 1982). Eight of the time-use skills of
time-efficient teachers are listed below.
1. Time-efficient teachers spend more time thinking about the
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plan they are making for students and less time writing elabo-
rate, detailed lesson plans than do less efficient teachers.
2. Students of time-efficient teachers are more prepared for their
lessons because the teacher has provided them with long-range
calendars of assignments and posted assignments in the class-
3. These teachers give more interesting introductions to lessons
because they have the time to find new materials, plan how to
explain the rationale for each lesson, and design ways to fre-
quently review the rules and procedures in activities.
4. They explain concepts in concrete terms, using examples,
non-examples, analogies, and personal experiences.
5. They guide students in practicing the concepts before they al-
low them to work independently.
6 . They reteach the concepts several times, using samples to
stimulate different modalities in the first two days of instruc-
7. They provide new information more frequently than less suc-
cessful teachers, that is, their organizational skills enable them
to implement more objectives.
8. They divide complex tasks into simpler tasks with greater ease
than less successful teachers. They also give step-by-step di-
rections for new learning tasks.
In addition, these teachers deliver lessons that do not interfere
with the pace of slower learning students. Specifically, these suc-
cessful teachers have overcome five problems in lesson delivery.
These problems, as well as the methods they used to overcome
them are cited in Table 2.
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Classroom-Based Approaches in Promoring Student Success 139

Working with Teachers to Improve Schedules

so as to Better Accommodate
At-Risk Students' Learning Needs
Student success is dependent upon teachers' skills in scheduling
classroom time. These skills apply to schedules followed within
single classes, schedules followed in consecutive classes, and
weeklybearly timetables. As much as 80 percent of the difference
in student achievement can be explained by the degree of teacher
skill in scheduling time to teach (Barr, 1980; Everston, Emmer,
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Sanford, Clements, & Worsham, 1984; and Sanford, 1983). For

example, in one study (Davidson & Holly, 1979), teachers learned
how to make better schedules. When these schedules were fol-
lowed, these teachers increased their students' instructional time by
23 to 34 minutes a day. This gave their students a total of 10-16
more days of learning time a year. This increase appeared to occur
solely through the teachers' more effective use of classroom time.
How Can Regular Classroom Teachers Schedule
and Pace Activities, Shin Topics, Decide
When (and How) to Change Activities, Signal
Correct Behaviors, and Make Transitions
to Enhance Learning for At-Risk Students
Some of the effective, time-use scheduling skills are:
1. Keeping the daily schedule visible at all times.
2. Keeping the desk clear except for the lesson plan book,
which is opened.
3. Posting the week's objectives and learning plans in the class-
4. Placing the teachers' manuals and lesson plans
- for different
subjects in separate places in the room.
5. Following a consistent procedure for students to leave the
room that does not allow students to interrupt small group or
one-on-one instruction.
6. Using a consistent signal to end the class, such as "It's time
to stop working now," or "Let's stop work and review as we
prepare for the next lesson.".

7. Allowing class monitors to set up materials and distribute

papers, while the teacher meets with individual students.
8. During the first week of school, the students are kept in large
group activities and practice procedures for moving to small
groups, to the locker, etc., until each procedure is automatic
and orderly.
9. Detecting and correcting student behavior problems immedi-
ately (see Collins, 1987, and Collins, 1988b for a description
of methods).
10. Allowing no more than 30 seconds for transitions between
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lessons by the fourth week of school.

11. Making the yearly plan in consideration of special events,
such as Halloween and school sports, which impact the lives
of all students.


Classroom teachers' awareness of their own time-management
weaknesses can help keep at-risk students on task. To increase this
awareness, the most common classroom time wasters are cited in
Table 3. Although the scope of this discussion does not include
methods by which special services providers can assist teachers in
eliminating specific time-wasting habits, special services providers
can provide these teachers with a copy of Table 3 and direct them to
a resource of methods to eliminate time-wasters (see, e.g., Collins,
1987). Such assistance might benefit at-risk students. That is, every
time a regular education teacher learns to more appropriately use
classroom time, the learning time for at-risk students can increase.
How Special Service Providers Can Assist Teachers
to Maximize Classroom Learning Time
Although there are many ways that special services providers can
help teachers identify their time-management difficulties (Collins,
1987), I will discuss only two. These two can be implemented after
only one meeting with the teacher.
First, special services providers can help teachers by assisting
Classroom-Based Approaches in Promoting Student Success 141

TABLE 3. Most Common Time Wasters

Being bothered and f r u s t r a t e d by t h e c l u t t e r on t h e desk.
Having t o overcome a n " o b s t a c l e course" e a c h time a p i e c e of p a p e r
is needed from t h e f i l e s .
Not being s k i l l e d i n t h e a r t o f "wastebasketry" (Douglass. 1980.
p. 153).
Being e x c e s s i v e l y motivated t e n d s t o encourage a t e a c h e r t o c h a n n e l
energy i n t o e x c e s s i v e l y narrow thought p a t t e r n s . On t h e o t h e r hand,
l i m i t e d m o t i v a t i o n w i l l n o t s t i m u l a t e t h e p e r s i s t e n c e t h a t w i l l be
v i t a l t o complete a t a s k .
Attempting t o do t o o much a t t h e time o r overcommitting.
Acting on b i a s e s .
Being unable t o overcome b e t r i e b s b l i n d ("company b l i n d n e s s " ) , one
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is s o f a m i l i a r w i t h o n e ' s s u r r o u n d i n g s t h a t t h e waste and unpro-

d u c t i v e movements a r e n o t n o t i c e d .
P a r t i c i p a t i n g i n i n e f f e c t i v e o r t o o many meetings o f l i m i t e d v a l u e .
Being unable t o say "no."
Having t o contend w i t h a l o t o f "red tape."
Spending t o o much time on t h e telephone.
E n t e r t a i n i n g t o o many drop-in v i s i t o r s .
Doing t o o much paperwork.
Making agreements w i t h o t h e r s about time t h a t r e s u l t s i n n e g a t i v e
payoffs o r allowing o t h e r s t o s e t personal p r i o r i t i e s f o r another
Being' unable t o s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e .
Being unable t o t a k e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r time.
Being unaware o r unable t o d i s t i n g u i s h what i s t r u l y important and
most v a l u a b l e i n a s i t u a t i o n .
Wishing t o be w e l l l i k e d .
Enjoying t h e f e e l i n g s of being busy.
Having bad h a b i t s i n p e r s o n a l working s t y l e .
E x h i b i t i n g d i s o r g a n i z e d behavior.
Making t a s k s t o o complex when t h e y could be done simply.
Being unable t o make d e c i s i o n s a s w e l l a s o n e would l i k e .
Using p r o c r a s t i n a t i o n .
Lacking t h e s t r e n g t h o r s k i l l s t o s e l e c t key a c t i v i t i e s , p r o j e c t s .
and people w i t h who one wants t o spend time.
Socializing and/or p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n i d l e conversation.
Lacking good planning s k i l l s
Communicating i n e f f e c t i v e l y o r r e c e i v i n g p o o r l i n f r e q u e n t commu-
Being unable t o l i s t e n a c t i v e l y o r t o r e c e i v e a s much a s one
would l i k e from t h e time s p e n t l i s t e n i n g .
Having i n e f t e c t i v e d e l e g a t i n g s k i l l s t h a t l e a v e one t a k i n g on
more t a s k s t h a n one is c a p a b l e o f handling.
Leaving t a s k s u n f i n i s h e d o r jumping from one t a s k t o a n o t h e r ;
constantly switching p r i o r i t i e s .
Attending t o t o o many d e r a i l s o r b e i n g a p e r f e c t i o n i s t .
I n a b i l i t y t o e s t a b l i s h self-imposed d e a d l i n e s .
Having confused c h a i n s of command o r m u l t i p l e s o u r c e s of immediate

TABLE 3 (continued)
38. I n a b i l i t y to maximize changes and t o c a p i t a l i z e upon the opportun-
i t y o f the moment.
39. Making frequent mistakes or giving i n e f f e c t i v e performances.
40. Having no standards or standards that do not maximize your capa-
b i l i t i e s and capacity.
41. Being unable t o d e t e c t progress or t o maintain achievement records.
42. Experiencing wondering actention.
43. Exhibiting poor handwritting.
44. Misplacing items.
45. Failing t o l i s t e n .
46. Overdoing routine tasks.
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47. Brooding over d i f f i c u l t assignment.

their introspection. By asking which of the following experiences

they most often have, special services providers can direct the
teachers' thinking toward the problem. Teachers can be asked if
they often: (a) feel overwhelmed; (b) feel as if their activities lack a
clear focus; (c) seem overcommitted; (d) feel powerless to change
forces, outside the classroom, that impact time in the classroom;
(e) feel dissatisfied with themselves or their profession; (f) sense a
tension between themselves and one or more students in the room;
(g) feel as if they are not receiving adequate rewards for their work;
andlor (h) notice that they are not routinely providing enough work
for students, and students are wasting time.
These feelings and actions might arise from different time-wast-
ing decisions. Each time-wasting decision may require a different
method to overcome misused time. Time-wasting decisions might
be reduced by using one or more of the time-management methods
listed in the next section of this paper. Special services providers
can assist teachers to know which types of time-wasting activities
they use. For example, teachers can be asked to think about the time
of day, type of student, time of week andlor time of month in which
loss of time is most evident. These questions can focus attention on
when and with whom teachers should use the time management
methods described in the next section.
The second method that can assist teachers to maximize class-
room learning time is the use of Teachers' Time-Use Journal (Table
4). To be most effective, the teacher should keep the journal, faith-
fully, at the end of each day for one full work week. On Friday, the
Classroom-BasedApproaches in Promoting Student Success

Dale Day of Week
1. Ifell good dolnglmmpleUn~eglnning

2 1was not pleased with

3. 1 said "yes" when Icould and should have said "no" when

4. 1E A"no"
~ when Iwuld and should have said "yes" when
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5. Ifelt that Iwas wasUng lime or using It Inappropriately when

6. The high polnls of my day were:

7. The low points of my day were:

8. Iwas unable to do or did not mmplete these lasks:

9. 1 spent b o much time doing

10. Agreemenls made with mysell that lmpacted my time positively were: -
11. Agreements made with others lhal Impacted my time posilively were: -

12 Agreements made with others Vlal Impacted my time negatively were -

13. Insights Igained today aboul using my lime were

14. Thlngs Iwuld, should, and would have done today I Ihad managed my time
more elliclenliy were:

15. Ideas and thoughls Ihad loday were:

16. In the Ume Iallowed lor myself today. I

17. The three mosl tlmeconsumlng tasks or goals thal I cannot conlrol B e
amount of time they lake are:

18. Analysls ol Ills day's adviUes in lighl o l talents used and enjoymenVoulputs
gained reveals that:

Tomorrow spend 10 rnlnuleswmpleling another copy of Ulls form. Keep separale noles
wdhoul rcferring back to lhls worksheet.

special services provider can meet with the teacher to discuss the
insights that evolved.

Assisting Teachers and Students

to Maximize Their Instructional Time

There are ten methods of managing classroom time more effec-

Method 1: Becoming aware of tendencies that cause teachers to
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misuse time. Method 1 can be used when one exercises introspec-

tion and develops plans to use time more productively. (Tendencies
that cause teachers to misuse time are cited in Table 5.) Teachers
could ask their school principals to distribute Table 5 or ask if they
could share them in a faculty meeting. After each tendency is intro-
duced, teachers can select a method they will use to overcome it.
They can then develop a plan to familiarize their students with the
tendency. Through these means, teachers might minimize their own
(and their students) misuse of time.
Method 2: Begin with familiar sections of difficult tasks. Sec-
ondly, teachers and students can learn that whenever they dread
doing a task, they might complete it more rapidly if they begin:
(a) at a point that is interesting or clearly understood, (b) with some-
thing they have done before, and/or (c) with a part that calls upon
one or more of their talents. If they begin in this way, rather than
trying to work in the order the tasks will appear in the finished
assignment, teachers and students can complete several tasks that
will create many small successes without having to risk failing.
Method 3: Leave some tasks in view. The third method was first
presented by Alan Lakelin (1973) and Speed Leas (1978). Lakelin,
a leading time management consultant, discovered that certain tasks
have to be "seen often" before we will commit to complete them.
Thus, Method 3 is to leave some types of tasks in view. As Leas
points out, however, only five percent of all tasks pass the "quali-
fiying test" to use Method 3 of time management. That is, before a
task can be most efficiently completed by being left in view, it must
be: (a) a task the teacher is motivated to complete, (b) a task that is
enjoyed, (c) a task that holds high value and/or is a priority in the
learning objectives, (d) a task capable of being neatly and attrac-
Classroom-Based Approaches in Promoting Student Success 145

TABLE 5. Tendencies That Influence the Way Teachers ~llocateTime

1. Teachers will do what they like to do before they do what they do
not like to do (e.g.. "I find that I like jobs better when my friends
work with me or when I push a little harder and do the difficult
things in order.!') Tell how the tendency can be overcome in a state-
ment similar to the one just given.

2. Teachers do the things they know how to do faster than the things they
do not know how to do. and they do things for which the resources are
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3. Teachers do the things that are easiest before doing things that are
difficult. They tackle small jobs before tackling large jobs, and
things are done that provide the most immediate closure. One easy
thing can be done as a "priming of the pump" to get a big task going.

4. Teachers do things that require little time before the things that
require a large amount of time. The things that ore urgent are done
before things that are important.

5. Teachers perform scheduled activities before nonscheduled ones. -

6. Teachers respond to demands of others before demands from themselves.
Teachers work on the basis of the consequences of the group.

7. Teachers will readily respond to crises and emergencies, and wait

until a deadline approaches before they get moving.

8. Teachers do interesting things before uninteresting,ones.

(It could only take a very small and simple thing, like using a new
mechanical pencil to make an uninteresting task more appealing.)

9. Teachers respond to duties in the order of personal objectives and to

the consequences of doing or not doing something.

10. Teachers work on things in order of their arrival. Things are done
that present themselves ab most important by the suggestion of others
or by the nature of the task itself.

tively arranged in the space available, and (e) a task one feels slight
pressure to complete.
Method 4: Learn to set aside time to work on deadlines. The
fourth method is to learn to establish appropriate deadlines. Many
teachers believe that their time-stresses are a result of having too
many deadlines and that their administrators do not give enough
time to complete the tasks. However, most teachers have not been
educated how to: (a) assess the amount of time needed to complete
tasks, and (b) increase their flexibility of thinking so as to create
more time to reach deadlines.
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To begin, teachers and students must learn to factor time for

Murphy's Laws (the problems for which they have no control and
for which they can not predict). Then, they must practice beginning
some part of each task as soon as it is assigned. For example, stu-
dents can begin work on their first homework problem while the
teacher is writing something on the board.
Teachers and students might reduce the amount of time tasks
take. Deadlines might give teachers and students two added reasons
to work diligently. That is, with deadlines they not only work to
complete the task but they work hard to prove their competence and
avoid disappointing others. Deadlines also can increase the timeli-
ness of the task. This occurs because teachers and students invest
less time in avoiding work and in putting off more difficult deci-
Method 5: Do it better. This method was developed as a "mar-
riage" of two conflicting quotations about time: "If anything is
worth doing, it's worth doing well" and "Do something now, even
if it's wrong." The do-it-better method refers to doing one's best on
everything and doing everything within the time allowed. This may
mean that teachers will begin to use a new procedure with routine
tasks. For example, one day, a teacher had only ten minutes to
record math grades. Normally, this teacher spends about 30 minutes
recording grades because students just turn in their papers as they
leave. By using the do-it-better method, this teacher was able to
record all grades in the 10 minutes available. This was accom-
plished because students turned in their papers in alphabetical
Method 6: Use "7 and 11" on monotonous tasks. The "7 and
11" method is based on the principle that proficiency increases if
Classroom-Based Approaches in Promoting Sludenr Success I47

attention is given to repetitive tasks for relatively brief as compared

to extended periods of time (Lakelin, 1973). Teachers and students
should learn to allocate only a few minutes, during at least two
periods of the day, to boring yet required tasks. To illustrate, teach-
ers can learn to use the "7 and 11 minute method" to increase at-
risk students' ability to learn multiplication facts. They should
schedule practice sessions for a few minutes at the beginning of the
class and a few minutes at the end of the class rather than to sched-
ule one large block of time for the activity.
Method 7: Make an assembly-line as often as possible. As im-
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plied in the title, this time management principle is best used with
tasks that: (a) have several sub-tasks requiring the same action,
(b) can be easily divided into sequential sub-tasks, (c) require dif-
ferent skills or tools, andlor (d) have a wide variety of sub-tasks to
complete before the end is reached. With this method, all sub-tasks
that require the same decision, skill or tool will be done before
moving to the next sub-task of each unit's work.
The success of this method is based on the principle that our
capabilities and efficiency are increased by doing one activity re-
peatedly. Further, boredom and tedium are reduced. To illustrate,
when the assembly-line method is used when papers are graded,
teachers do not have to continually ask themselves: (a) "Did I grade
# 3 on this paper?," (b) "What part of question # 7 did I want
everyone to mention?," (c) "Was I too lenient with Susan's an-
swers?," and (d) "What am I going to do now? I've graded almost
all the papers and given several A's. Now I come to George's paper
and it is superior to all the others." In conclusion, the assembly-line
method can reduce indecision, eliminate wasted time, and increase
Method 8: Build a set of training wheels. Whenever a teacher or
student sets a goal a little beyond their level of unassisted ability,
you can point out how their goal challenges them to grow and com-
pliment them for setting it. Then you lend support so they can rise
to the demands of the task by "building a set of training wheels for
One means of building this support is to suggest that teachers
learn to work in the same room when they have something difficult
to complete. The presence of their colleagues can motivate teachers
to persevere. Special services providers can model Method 8 by

asking a regular classroom teacher to work with them. For example,

a special services provider and classroom teacher can work at the
back of a classroom, during the next four planning periods "taking
turns" buying the cold drinks or snacks for each other, until the
difficult work is completed.
Method 9: Change the procedure to suit the task and the teach-
er's or student's working style. There are times when it's not the job
that caused the teacher or student to waste time but, rather, the way
they did it. The procedures teachcrs and students follow in the
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classroom are most often selected because of tradition. One indica-

tor that a classroom procedure is wasting time for at-risk students is
that the quality of their work decreases. A second indicator is that
the students begin to justify why their work quality is decreasing.
For example, students may report that their tasks aren't very impor-
Special services providers can assist regular classroom teachers
by asking them to examine how many materials and activities can
be combined. Specifically, teachers' thinking can be expanded so
that they can use other teachers or students to increase or decrease
the intensity of the learning process and better match teaching styles
with students' learning styles.
Method 10: Spending less time grading papers and doing pa-
perwork. Lastly, special services providers can help teachers spend
less time grading papers without reducing the quality of their feed-
back to students. Although a recent publication, Grading Made
Easy (Collins, 1988c) describes 43 time-effective techniques of
grading, the seven listed below might help teachers begin to spend
less time with paperwork and grading.

1. Teachers can use more oral drill whereby each student writes
hisher answer on an individual, hand-held blackboard so they
can observe each student's response to each item.
2. Teachers can ask oral, extended-thinking questions that re-
quire two or more days of work before answering. Also, they
can give written assignments that require two weeks of work.
3. Each afternoon before they leave, teachers can ask each stu-
dent to give an oral example of the major concepts taught that
Classroom-Based Approaches in Promoting Student Success 149

4. Teachers can use charts and checklists so students can record

and graph their own progress scores for 3 weeks or more.
5. Teachers can grade one major paper per week. This paper
could involve a synthesis and evaluation of lower-level think-
ing tasks done during the week.
6. Teachers can grade every fourth item on a practice exercise. In
this way, teachers can memorize the answers and grade each
paper rapidly without losing the diagnostic value of the prac-
tice work.
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7. Teachers can carry a clipboard around the room as they moni-

tor students' work. They can place checkmarks in columns
and make notes at the bottom of the page. Essentially, teachers
grade students as they work and teachers save considerable
time in writing notes on papers. Teachers discuss the problems
as they develop instead of trying to recapture these points by
grading papers at home.

Teaching Time Management Principles to Students

There are many possible benefits of teaching time-management

principles to students. One of the most significant is that teachers
can increase their own time-use skills through preparing examples
to use in teaching these principles to students.
To begin, teachers introduce to students the specific time manage-
ment-skills found in Tables 6 and 7. After these have been learned,
time-management methods described in this paper are simplified
and taught to students.
One of the most difficult time problems students have is learning
to use materials effectively. By posting specific instructions at the
location where materials will be used, procedures will be less diffi-
cult and time consuming for students.
Table 6 contains a form that can help students establish goals that
can be achieved. Table 7 contains a form teachers can use in struc-
turing student input in lesson planning. Specifically, teachers are to
list the most important topics they wish to address in a lesson or
unit. The second section of Table 7 is used for students to suggest
either additional important topics, or methods of learning the topics
of greatest interest to them. Finally, the last section of Table 7 is

TABLE 6 . Setting Goals with Students

I. What p a r t s of t h i s s u b j e c t a r e t h e most i n t e r e s t i n g t o you?

2. What s k i l l would you l i k e t o be a b l e t o do i n t h i s c l a s s by t h e

end of t h e s e m e s t e r ? T h i s y e a r ?

3. You t h i n k you c o u l d b e s t l e a r n t h i s s k i l l i f we d i d
(e.g., a n experiment, amall-group work, r e a d i n g about i t , i n t e r -
viewing a n a u t h o r i t y on t h e t o p i c , t a k i n g a f i e l d t r i p , working
i n c l a s s , p r a c t i c i n g a t home)?

4. What k i n d s o f work do you l i k e t o do i n groups?

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With a p a r t n e r ?


5. What reward would you l i k e t o r e c e i v e when you r e a c h t h e g o a l of

t h i s project?

6. What keeps you from d o i n g a s w e l l a s you would l i k e t o i n t h i s


7. How can you l e a r n b e s t i n t h i s c l a s s ?

used to record when topics will be completed so that students, par-

ents, and teachers have a written document of the lessons planned.
Table 8 is a form to be used by students as they transfer their new
planning skills to projects they direct themselves. Students set their
own deadlines. Teachers check them. The student then selects the
methods by which the project will be completed. Additional notes
can be attached to this form so the student learns to write goals
Another means of assisting students is to solicit the aid of their
parents. India Podsen (1984),has many suggestions about how this
can be accomplished.


There is much to be learned before we can use classroom time
more effectively. Implementing the suggestions in this paper is a
first step. Specifically, by analyzing the presumed effects thcse sug-
gestions have upon at-risk students' success, we can refine classroom
Classroom-Based Approaches in Promoting Student Success 151

TABLE 7. Student Involvement in Planning

. .

Topics that w i l l be covered

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Students Choices of Other Topics or Methods of Study

Dates That Topics W i l l Be Completed

procedures, monitor systems, schedule deliveries, and strengthen at-

risk students' own time-management skills more effectively. Be-
cause initial research (Collins, 1988d) has demonstrated the signifi-
cant impact time-management skill has upon student success,
controlled studies with divergent student populations would be ad-
vantageous. With the time-use methods currently available, our



Due Dale Check

Part 1 -
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Flnal Due Date
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Task: 1
Dlflerentlaled Task:
Lecturo Learnlng Role playlng

Fllm Community Independent

menlor study

Task card Slmulallon Worksheet


Geme Peer group Library
Tutor Small group Programmed
teacher-directed lextbook

task as educators is to adapt them most appropriately to the class-

room setting. Regrettably, there is considerable research to be done
before maximum instructional time is available to all at-risk stu-
dents. It was the intent of this paper to assist special services pro-
viders to improve present practices and influence the direction of
future research.

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