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Tick tick tick, planning your time in lessons

Free professional blog for English teachers


Do you run out of time in lessons or have a spare 15 minutes to fill at the end of the session? Do you want to use your time in the classroom more efficiently? We have collected our top tips for how to manage time in your lesson and how to get the most from your students.  

Before we begin, please note that even the best lesson plan in the world will not take the same amount of time for all classes. The time it takes for students to complete a lesson will depend on many factors including the size, ability and age of the class, as well as the complexity of the lesson. That’s why we at The English Classroom, plan in help and extra support tasks in all lessons so you can personalise it to suit your students. Read how we do that here.


Planning for time management 

  • Plan your lesson for 10-minute chunks. Shorter tasks keep students engaged and give you an easy to follow structure. 
  • If you teach a 60-minute lesson, plan for 45-50 minutes only. This accounts for the extra time it takes for students to arrive, unpack, settle down and pack up in an orderly way at the end of the lesson. You might need to leave more time for younger students.  
  • Plan time for questions from students, especially if you are studying a difficult topic. The possible reactions of the students must always be accounted for. 


Time management during the lesson 

  • Define the objectives for the lesson and stay focused on them. This is the reason you are teaching and if you can complete the objectives, it was successful. Extra tasks that do not focus on the objectives can be the first to be cut if you’re running out of time. 
  • Delegate administrative tasks to students. Simple tasks like handing out equipment, collecting books, sharpening pencils etc can be done by students and your time can be better spent teaching. (Tip: Choose students who need the extra movement to help their concentration!) 
  • For timed tasks, write the time to finish on the board so students can reference it. Better yet, if you have access to the internet in your classroom, put a countdown timer on the board so students can practice planning their own time management, whilst watching the time tick by. Some countdown timers play fun tunes when the time is up. 
  • Give a 5-minute warning to students so they can plan to finish their work on time. This will ensure that students are ready to move on to the next task together.  
  • Always have a clock in your classroom, both for your student's sake and your own. Place it at the back of your classroom so you can keep track of how long you talk and plan to finish the lesson in time.  


End the lesson on time 

  • End the lesson in an orderly way. Ensure you have a clean classroom and students leave correctly dressed in small groups at a time. This will set the students in the correct frame of mind for their next lesson and it means that your classroom (and stress levels) is ready to start your next lesson in a positive way. 


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Written by Jennifer Gardner

Owner of The English Classroom

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