Cool Resource: Time Management Strategies


At last week’s Winter Pre Term Meeting, teaching artists practiced a strategy called “think- pair- square” and shared techniques and ideas regarding time management in the studio. Here is a resource that was shared and discussed:

Helpful ideas for planning pace and progression of the day and the term:

  • Explain to the students the exact learning intentions (outcomes) of the day, demo, exercise, activity and/or term
  • Display these in writing for students to see, with approximate timings, and refer to these outcomes at intervals throughout the day and/or term
  • Explain clearly but briskly any instructions students need to be able to complete the activity – as your class becomes more familiar with different activities explanations will take up much less time, and this will add to the pace you want to achieve – it helps if students can both see and hear the instructions you give
  • Tell students you won’t take any questions at this stage [assuming that you’ve explained everything carefully] because you want to get the activity under way – say there’ll be a chance for review of the activity later when you’ll take questions from students
  • Make it clear exactly what type of activity it is: eg teacher presentation during which students are silent, discussion in groups or with partners, individual silent work, practical task and so on – make sure students know exactly how much time they have to do the activity
  • Use countdown reminders eg ‘You have 3 minutes left’, ‘You now have 1 minute left’ – make sure students can see the clock in your classroom
  • Encourage students that you want to see / hear what they’ve done in the time limit, even if the task is not fully completed; this often provides a discussion point for talking later in the lesson about learning strategies – and it is a good idea to get your students used to ‘sharing the information’ around the class, so everyone benefits from everyone’s contributions
  • Sometimes making the activity competitive helps to keep the pace brisk- be careful that the activity does not simply became a race to see who can finish first
  • Play music – some research suggests that music with 60 to 70 beats to the minute enhances learning activities: – be careful with music, sometimes the auditory learners in your class may start to pay more attention to the music, especially if it’s music with lyrics, than to the learning task
  • It’s better to finish an activity early, even if not complete, and allow some time for review or a plenary session before the lesson ends

Modified from:

Various teaching practices to support productive studio time

  • Quickly learn and use student names.
  • Gain students’ attention before beginning a new activity. Don’t try to talk over student noise.
  • Don’t interrupt students while they are on task.
  • Don’t introduce too many topics simultaneously.
  • Think through directions you will give students (write them down, if that helps, before giving them verbally). Directions should be brief, and as the word implies, direct.
  • Don’t stretch out the time for an activity just to fill time.
  • Schedule a time to stop for looking at images, having a demo, mini critique etc- rather than surprising students and stopping flow
  • Write outline of the day on the white board
  • Be consistent in what you say and what you do.
  • Vary your teaching strategies or combination of strategies during the term.
  • Use ten or more seconds of “wait-time” after asking a question.
  • Balance the time you spend with one student or group and monitoring the entire class
  • Create a sign in list for students who need your assistance. Encourage them to ask each other first.
  • Assign students partners to check in or review with
  • Review or check in regarding key concepts, goals or techniques at end of day and at the beginning of next class
  • Do appropriate comprehension checks – as you are teaching – to see if students understand the content.
  • Be selective in your praise. Be honest. Tell them when they’ve excelled and how they can improve.
  • Nip behavior problems in the bud. Intervene quickly when students are behaving inappropriately.
  • Whenever possible, discuss a student’s distracting behavior one-on-one instead of across the room, in front of the whole class.

Modified from, Bringing Order to the Classroom By Karen Zauber

Kate Adams About Kate Adams
Kate Adams is an artist, teaching artist, and mom. As a Marwen staff member she oversees Marwen’s teaching artist professional development, student assessment, and program evaluation. Through her artwork she explores concepts of home, generations and change. You can reach her at

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