Additional Tips and Ideas
Ultimately, maximizing class time is up to you. If you approach each day with the attitude that students will learn in your classroom and that the information you have to teach is important, you will have your priorities straight. Students will pick up on this attitude and realize that they cannot goof off in your class. Of course, this only works if you have an effective, consistent, and enforced discipline plan in place.
Start Class on Time
Class should begin the moment the bell rings or, in the case of elementary schools, when the students return from lunch, PE, or other activities. Designate your wall clock as the official time for your class to start and stick to it consistently.
If you have students learn from the beginning that they are to come in, begin the warm-up, and prepare for the class ahead, you will have won a major battle. This attitude should begin on the very first day of school. Do not be afraid to jump right in and begin teaching that first day. You do not have to do much, but setting the tone of expectations will teach students that they need to pay attention if they wish to pass your class.
You can work on your own and your students' organization at the same time by creating a posted daily agenda. Having the students copy their agenda into a calendar requires students to pay attention to the agenda for the day. Students benefit because they know what to expect and where they are in a lesson.
An additional idea is to have students copy these in their daily planners and send them home for signatures at the end of each week. Parents will stay involved and know what their children are learning about in class.
You also will benefit from an agenda. Yours can be as simple as that presented to your students, or it may include other information, like a short list of reminders to yourself. It is easy to lose your place, so having this visual reminder in front of you can help. Some teachers include times on their personal agenda so they can keep the class moving through the day's lesson.
Stay in Control
If you lose control of your class as you deal with disruptions, you will find that it takes a long time for students to get back on task. Some might never get back on task, and you could lose the rhythm of the lesson. Therefore, it is important to keep disruptions to a minimum.
If you have a class in which you often have disruptions, have referrals with you as you teach. Some teachers even go so far as to have a referral filled out. All they have to do is add the student's name if a disruption occurs. This can reduce the time you have to spend on classroom disruptions.
If students are talking or passing notes, call on them to answer questions. This is a subtle way to get them back on task. Writing students' names on the board can be effective for younger students. However, realize that some students might try to argue with you about having their name displayed on the board. Do not engage in this type of verbal sparring in front of your class. Instead, tell the student to discuss it with you after class.