When any break from school comes about whether it’s a weekend, winter/spring break, a federal holiday, or summer break, teachers and students breathe a sigh of relief because they are finally able to recapture some time. Time for rest, time for building relationships, time for pursuing personal interests, and time for catching one’s breath. Why is it that this much needed respite and recharge never seems to find its way into the everyday facets of learning?
The go, go, go attitude that often seems to take over learning time both inside and outside of the classroom can leave students saying no, no, no when it comes to their educational pursuits. Pressure and demands can take many to a breaking point where it’s difficult to return and find the enjoyment and rewards of learning. Taking the time to help students (and teachers) find a balance and approach to learning that creates a more lasting and connective impact is key. Honing in on how actual time is used can hold the answer.
In the planning and development of a positive learning environment and the impactful experiences to be encountered within it, the following components of time must be integrated.
Time to struggle.- If students are always given the answer when asked and/or shut down by a letter grade when the incorrect answer is given, they will never learn how to work through anything. There has to be an opportunity to dive into learning and gain the experience of choosing fight over flight when things get difficult.
Time to think.- This may seem like a no brainer, but many kids can get overwhelmed when they’re put on the spot or expected to supply an immediate answer. It’s important to integrate the pregnant pause in questioning and the learning process. Many kids will shut down in a rapid-fire response environment. While there is something to building the ability to think on one’s toes, there is also a need to offer students practice in mastering that skill.
Time to interact with others.- Being social and building relationships is human nature and an innate part of finding success. Students need to have opportunities to work collaboratively and to interact socially. There doesn’t need to be a coffee bar built into the back of every classroom, but there does need to be time for students to get to know one another, make connections with each other, and build an empathy for others. The time to build social skills should be factored into any successful curriculum.
Time to reflect.- In the rush to fit it all in, the time to reflect can often be what gets eliminated. Removing reflection from the queue to create more time for everything else is a critical error. Through reflection, students are able to build that connected mind map and ingrain the concepts mastered. Reflection is a cyclical tool that should never be placed on a time-saving chopping block.
Time to be a kid.- While teachers are preparing children for the future, they have to take into account that they are working with children. Children whose innate natures are to play and explore and enjoy life don’t simply switch off that component during the school year. When students are spending countless hours outside of the classroom sitting at another desk to complete an overload of homework, the once-in-a-lifetime joys of being a kid are fading away. Rethink what’s asked of students outside of the classroom and share homework alternatives or simply offer students the time to be a kid.
Talk to teachers about the challenges found in the classroom, and one major concern that will always be voiced is the element of time. Time does play a huge role in the successes found within the classroom. Rather than focusing in on a lack of time, teachers need to focus in on how to best manage and allocate the time given.
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