Do you dispense class time, like food pellets to lab rats, portioned and universal? I did.

Do you control time and dispense it in perfectly portioned pellets of time, as you would food to a lab rat? Implying they somehow can’t manage the consumable themselves?

“Come on hurry up!” “Let’s go people!”

“We need to move on!” “Finish up!”

“Let’s put that away and get out……….” “10 minutes to finish up.”
100 hours and over 150 PLO’s (prescribed learning outcomes) to evenly distribute over the minutes, the hours and the seconds, like icing to spread carefully over a cake.

What if learning can’t be evenly distributed over time?
Last semester as I went all in with the flip classroom, asynchronous learning triggered a mini break down for me. I had managed students’ time, believing that I could thereby manage their learning.

After many internal struggles, I had several epiphanies around time management:

1. Students who appear the “busiest” in class are often masters at looking busy, but not necessarily masters of their learning.

2. Each student has an ebb and flow to their learning.

3. Students require varying amounts of time on topics, and the time does not always relate to the difficulty of the topic.

4. Students have an excellent awareness of topics that they struggle with. Given the time and opportunity they will choose to address these problems.

5. Students learn in spurts and starts. Many have ALL at once learning when many topics all fit together for them at one time.

6. Students will change their habit of procrastination given the time (and sometimes it is a long time!) and space to reflect, misstep and try again. Some will repeat this cycle several times.

7. Some students need to find the edge of their capabilities to experience growth.

Some of the changes that have developed in our Flipped Class:

1. Re-wrote learning outcomes into “I can” statements for students. Folding smaller outcomes (like chocolate chips into batter) into larger standards that represent the enduring understandings. I did this before my time management epiphany but it helped me to “let go”.

1. Students are presented with a pot-pourri of learning materials along with a list the of  possible activities (think of a delectable description sheet in a box of chocolates!) with an optimal deadline (expiry date). Students select activities to do and in which order. We still run class labs and activities, but not all students must do every single one every single time. (for example if a student is still struggling with a previous unit their time maybe better spent on that). We still do community building activities as a group.

2. I have backed off nagging kids to get stuff done and from micromanaging their time. This was and still is very hard for me. I remind myself daily to refrain from these old habits.

3. I wait for students to ask for help (most of the time) Giving students control of their time signals that I trust them to be in charge of their learning.

4. Students use learning journals on a daily basis.  

5. Less defined separation between “homework” and “school work”. Instead the focus is on learning. If students don’t watch videos for “homework” (although most do), oh well. If students have a down or off day in class, again, oh well. Don’t we all?

6. All learning outcomes are “on the table” all semester.

7. I have meaningful and continuous conversations with students each class. This is equally hard in what it reveals as it rewarding.

Do you package your own learning into neat containers of time?

Who controls time in your classroom?

3 thoughts on “Do you dispense class time, like food pellets to lab rats, portioned and universal? I did.

  1. I too was guilty (and still am to be honest) of this. Since the flip I am trying hard to allow kids to do what I wanted them to do, work at their own pace, though old habits die hard! Students are over-scheduled in general, which I find often impacts their ability to work independently… we as educators definitely need to stop being “time hoarders.” I loved your point that many students have “all at once learning,” I see it all the time..the aha moment! I find the less I stress them out with trying to control time, the more “aha” moments there are. The flip has definitely created an environment where it is easier to not worry about the clock. Thanks for the post, definitely food for thought!

  2. The stress of the pace and time demands of the traditional classroom and especially the lecture are the number one problem expressed by students in my experience, and the need to review and reflect – often many times – is the number one benefit quoted for technology based resources by learners I’ve talked to. Heartily support your points above and would draw your attention to the fact that vocational education quals use ‘I can; statements routinely. I think this is very important because it personalises the progress to the individual and transfers some of the reponsibility and validation to the student themsleves rather than being a semi-remote process.

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