Last week, I shared some of the ways I’ve learnt over the years to manage my time on the road. After all, this is time travel teachers can all so easily ‘lose’ during their overall teaching week.
However, one thing holds true whether you teach in your student’s home, your home studio, commercial location or a school … time management during lesson time is crucial. I’ve made many mistakes over the years which have led me to becoming a much better teacher now. Everything from lesson format to modifying practice pages (many teachers call them assignment pages) so they work better for me AND my students. Below is my list of top tips to get the most out of lesson time.
Tips to get the most out of lesson time
- Have an intro activity: To maximize lesson time, get students doing something immediately. While I take off my coat & get settled, my students grab their previous week’s practice page & points card. I glance at the practice page & get them warming up. We are in the midst of a technique challenge so right now we are all about the scales, ’bout the scales and chords. (Love that song!) While teaching 2 students, one begins warm ups while I quickly visually confirm my other students is getting on the iPad & task cards for independent lab time.
- Make a plan with estimated times for each activity: This is especially a great idea if you are just starting out or find you reach the end of lesson wondering if you made any forward moment at all. (I have been there & it just isn’t a fun feeling.) If you have been teaching awhile, having at least a general plan helps you make important decisions of what to focus on during lesson, as well as overall choices that make time for ear training, sight-reading, rhythm & the myriad of other components of a well-rounded program. Sometimes those plans go out the window, but at least you will know each student is making progress at their speed.
- Aim to end 5 minutes early: This is related to the previous tip. Activities go over. A student may need more guidance than you originally thought. Or, perhaps an activity went really well & you stuck with it. All great reasons to have that 5 minute buffer. It’s a great habit to review the practice page with your student (or student & parent depending on age). One last review of what needs to be practiced, how to practice it & what the expectation for next lesson can save you from texts, emails, & calls during the week.
- If you don’t hear a song one week, that’s okay: This is a recent tip I have embraced & it has made a HUGE difference. Students need variety, though how much variety is different for each student. If a student tells me that they just need another week of practice for a particular song (especially if it was a low-practice week), I check if they need help with a section. If not, depending on the overall goals for the lesson, I may or may not listening to the song. Then, the next week I make a point of listening to that song before any others so the student can get feedback. Using this tip has certainly increased the repertoire my students are working on & has allowed them to make consistent growth each week.
- Make an editable practice page beforehand: I used to write out practice pages AND anecdotal records during lesson time. It was a huge waste of time since I wrote things down twice & constantly had my attention divided between my student & the notes. NOW, I have an electronic practice page that I also use as my lesson plan & anecdotal records. During lesson, I modify the page as needed. Extra notes or reminders to myself are either typed in the “extra notes” section (i.e. Next week, I will be bringing you “The 30 Club” award that you earned today. Congratulations on completing this awesome milestone!) or written/typed into a to-do list for myself if I am unable to make it pertinent for the student or parents (i.e. Annabelle is really struggling with recognizing intervals. Find manipulatives for her.). Before I leave lesson, the finalized practice page is emailed to either parent or student so they can print it. Parents have quickly gotten into the habit of immediately printing the page … sometimes even before I have left their home!
Calling all teachers … Your top time management tips!
As the years have gone on, I have been able to streamline many processes. And, I am quite sure that you have as well.
Regardless of where you teach, please leave YOUR top tips below. I would love to learn from you how you manage lesson time so it work for you and your students.
Have a great weekend!