With that being said, I will admit. I struggle BIG TIME with this. I have sooooooooo many awesome ideas. I have sooooooooooo little time to teach each class. This leads to soooooooooooo much rushing throughout the day. My poor fifth graders hear me say, "We have so much to do and not enough time to do it!" almost every single day.
How can we compete with the increasing demands on our time without giving up what really matters? Teaching our students. Not just the content standards, but how to be responsible. Kind. Courageous. Honest. Caring. Adventurous. Trusting. Wise. Careful. The list really goes on and on and on.
I've found that the best way to squeeze more time out of the day is to be sure to set up specific routines early in the year. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I swear that as a new teacher ten years ago I had no CLUE how important this was. I actually assumed my 10-year-old students would kind of figure it out. HA!
Over the years I have tried so many strategies. And let's face it - there is NOT a one size fits all answer. As a fifth grade teacher who is responsible for instructing four class periods each day as well as lunch, recess, specials, assemblies, etc. I have had to be creative with my time. Here are three ways I have found to help "cram it all in" each day.
If you teach older students like I do, you're probably thinking that so many of those cute little brain breaks all over Pinterest just wouldn't get your kiddos up and excited. Yeah. You're right. I tried a few and they flopped. Mostly my students wanted a chance to talk, walk about, giggle a bit, and stretch. But if I just gave them "free time" I would likely never get them refocused. So I use a lot of science "rap" songs from YouTube during my lessons. Students are allowed to dance, sing, or tap out a beat while the song is playing. BUT, when it finishes, they are responsible for answering some questions related to the content of the song. I love this compromise. If you teach science, feel free to check out this Pinterest board where I collect my favorite science (and a few math) songs.
Some days I just don't have a good song, so I grab my stack of brain break cards and challenge the students to something silly like writing their names on the air using the end of their nose. Not only does this get the kids laughing and relaxed, but it's so much fun watching them. (Teachers need a quick brain break too!)
Brain Breaks for Bigger Kids on TpT. Or click on the picture above.
One of my teaching partners ordered this timer for everyone on our team a couple years ago, and I ADORE it. It's simple to use and very visual for kids. I display it on my document camera when I give my students a set amount of time to complete a task or exam.
We have a saying at our school:
"Every second, every minute, every hour of every day for every Pirate."
How do YOU make every bit of the school day count for YOUR students?