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Surviving the last 15 minutes

Behaviour Management

Surviving the last 15 minutes

a guide for classroom teachers and teacher aides

Students losing concentration in a classroom.

The final 15 minutes or so is a period of high-risk from a classroom management perspective.

The most challenging part of a lesson is often the last 15 minutes or so. The teacher is often exhausted, depleted of caffeine and feeling hungry. Even the best-behaved students are starting to lose concentration. The teacher has so far managed to keep the class on track and things have been going well – almost a successful lesson. With 15 minutes to go, most teachers generally try to avoid issues, escalations or confrontations. The last thing a teacher wants is a huge issue 4 minutes before the end of the day – imagine the paperwork! Similar to transitions, the final 15 minutes or so is a period of high-risk from a classroom management perspective. During this time, the usual behaviour management expectations may not apply – the teacher is a bit more forgiving and turns a blind eye more often.

During this time, the usual behaviour management expectations may not apply – the teacher is a bit more forgiving and turns a blind eye more often.

At this heightened time (and during challenging classes especially), a common technique to move around the room speaking with several target individuals, ‘10 minutes to go, nothing silly and we can all go to lunch on time’. This precorrection is surprisingly effective but may only last a few minutes for some – 6 minutes remaining. Another option is to set a specific learning goal for one or more students which they must achieve before leaving. This may be 4 maths questions for example or to read 6 pages in a book. Yet another option might be for the teacher to move from an individual or pair-work scenario to a teacher-centred approach. The teacher asks questions, provides a review and demonstration, plays a small game or tells an interesting story. The latter being one of the most sought-after rewards, even for older students.

Hint: The final 6-7 minutes of a lesson require teachers to think carefully about their positioning. This is not a time to drop the ball after nearly an hour of hard work. One strategy for particularly challenging students is to engage them in some type of discussion for a couple of minutes – this will pass critical time allowing the lesson to end uneventfully – especially useful on a late Friday afternoon.

About the author

Image of the managing director of ITAC.

ADAM GREEN

Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of ITAC, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.

Source: Behaviour Management Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to check his article for accuracy, information may be outdated, inaccurate or not relevant to you and your location/employer/contract. It is not intended as legal or professional advice. Users should seek expert advice such as by contacting the relevant education department, should make their own enquiries, and should not rely on any of the information provided.

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