School. A favorite time for most of us, when Mother Nature sends a torrential downpour of awkwardness, acne and algebra. To all the teachers / miracle workers guiding students through this time – THANK YOU!
“This age, 11 – 14, is life lived in limbo,” says English teacher Alex M. “They’re not little kids anymore — but graduation is very far away. They’re caught in this weird middle time that feels totally ENDLESS… no wonder their time management skills are suffering!”
Timers – especially visual timers – can help teachers address a surprising number of classroom challenges at this age.
“Having a Time Timer at this age is terrific,” says Language Arts teacher Hannah N, “because tweens are so much more inhibited than younger children. Learning to accomplish their own projects, at their own pace, by watching the Timer just [gives] a visible and visceral confidence boost.”
9 Classroom Challenges – and how the Time Timer can help!
1. More Demanding Coursework.
“Different students excel in different areas,” says Alexis M, the English teacher. “But in Junior High, all of a sudden you have “Advanced English” and “Advanced Math” for the first time. That does create a pressure.
For the advanced kids, all of a sudden they’re being challenged and really tested. Some of them have never had to work hard before. For the kids [in regular classes], they can feel like their work isn’t as important by comparison, and they might stop pushing themselves.”
The Time Timer can help.
– Define two types of projects: “new skills” and “working skills” (i.e. abilities students have already mastered).
– If students are learning “new skills,” then set the Timer for a short amount of time, like 15 minutes. Encourage students to keep practicing the new skill until the Timer’s red disk is completely gone. Then take a mental break. This decreases their anxiety and frustration – they know the time will eventually be up.
– If students are using their “working skills,” then set the Timer for a longer amount of time, like 30-35 minutes. Build their endurance, productivity – and confidence – by teaching them to push through a tough project until it’s finished.
2. More Rigorous Testing.
Because it’s completely silent, the Time Timer is approved for standardized testing and practice tests. Just turn your Timer over and switch the Alarm switch from ON to OFF. Then set the Timer for each section of the exam. By glancing at the red disk, students can gauge how much time they have left — without the stress of a constantly-ticking numerical countdown!
3. More Independent Work.
The ability to:
– work independently
– stay on task
– stick to a schedule
– and avoid distractions
is an invaluable gift you can give your students!
Set the Time Timer and place it at a work table with multiple students. Assign each student an indepent project. Your students will not only learn how to work independently, they’ll also focus on the Timer and their work vs. other tempting distractions.
4. Talking talking talking talking talking talking.
Repeat after me: “NO TALKING UNTIL THE RED IS GONE!”
5. Overscheduled Kids.
We often use our Time Timers to motivate kids – “keep working until the red is gone!”
The opposite phrase – “stop working when the red is gone!” is also very valuable for overscheduled kids (and adults!). The ability to give your best effort for 30 minutes – then stop and spend time with your family – will serve your students well for life.
6. Social Anxiety.
Now this one is cool:
“I had a chatty classroom who couldn’t focus,” says Language Arts teacher Mei-Mei C. “So I set the Timer for five minutes at the beginning of each class and said: “Get your talking done!” Here’s the thing: Every day I moved students into different talking groups. Eventually they started opening up to each other. It didn’t change lives or anything, but my students became dramatically less clique-obsessed, and the shy kids really opened up.”
7: Behavior Problems.
“They’re too OLD for a kiddie time-out,” bemoans Biology teacher Elizabeth J. “But they need one. We all do sometimes!”
Instead of a time-out — use your Timer.
“A structured day does wonders for behavior problems,” says Hannah N, the the Language Art“Routines, schedules and daily responsibilities cut down on transition time, which reduces opportunities for acting out.”
8. Undiagnosed Learning Disabilities.
Sometimes, behavior problems stem from undiagnosed learning disabilities or problems at home. If a student is unable to complete his/her work, then some time with a special needs assistant or cognitive behavioral counselor may work wonders.
“Once I started using the Time Timer, it became a lot more obvious to me which students just needed better time management skills and which ones were really struggling,” says Elizabeth J, the biology teacher. “Now I’m able to give both groups special time.”
9. Laissez-Faire Work Ethic.
So you set the Time Timer and a student sits twiddling his thumbs. What do you do?
Introduce a little competition!
Put the students in teams, and challenge them to complete the work together (before the Timer runs out) for a prize — like a 10/10 quiz trade.
Introduce an element that interests the student: sports, art, music. A little competition combined with something he loves can engage him very quickly!