Running Out of Time

Basically,  I’m going to Gary Rubinstein’s blog and reblogging the parts I feel are most important and that I don’t want to forget. The problem is that I’m so inexperienced that I’ll believe just about any piece of advice I hear, but I’m pretty sure Gary knows what he’s doing.

Lessons almost always take longer than you think. If the lesson goes too fast, tack on another activity and always have some in reserve. But slowing down is harder.

Here’s what he says:

Until I really know where my students are and what will frustrate them and make them lose confidence, I prefer to teach something short and easy. This doesn’t mean my expectations are low. It means that I’m choosing a less risky path. A good rule of thumb is that if you think a topic can be covered in one day, it will probably take two days. So you have a choice: Split it up into two nicely organized lessons, each with a good assessment activity or you can try to teach it in one day, fail miserably, and then try to ‘re-teach’ it the second day. There’s no way around it. If the lesson requires two days, it will get those two days one way or another.

Since it is so common for even veteran teachers to miscalculate how much content is the perfect amount, a good thing to do, while planning your lesson, is to have an ‘exit strategy.’ What you do is make an alternative activity that the students will be able to do even if you only get through half of the material you expected to. That way when you’re twenty minutes into the lesson and realizing that you’d better get the kids to work in the next two minutes, you can assign your ‘exit strategy’ lesson and the students will never know that they didn’t rise to meet your expectations. All they’ll know is that they learned something today and successfully completed an activity.


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