UW Continuum College Instructor Resources

Episode 3: Managing class time transcript

P: Hi Jan!

J: Hi Peter. What’s new?

P: Well, this time I was hoping we could talk this question I get a bunch, and that’s how instructors can fit all the material they want to cover in one day into a single class meeting.

J: Sounds good! What are you thinking?

P: Well, I think there’s a few parts that can go into this. The first goes back to the learning objectives for that day, or, in other words, what the instructor wants students to be able to do by the end of that session. So for example, let’s say that an instructor has two learning objectives for a particular day; one could be that students should be able to identify 20 safety hazards on a construction site, and second, that students should be able to explain those hazards to the site supervisor. With this information, the instructor can make sure that everything they do that day supports those two objectives.

J: Ah okay. And I can see that helping a lot in and of itself, because if an instructor does all of that and sees that they have content that doesn’t fit with that day or help meet the objectives, they could just take it out or move it to another day.

P: Exactly. And sometimes that’s enough. Other times, though, and this actually leads into the second part, it’s helpful to then plan out how much time it’ll take to cover those objectives.

J: That makes sense. Do you have some examples for how that could work?

P: I do! And let’s pretend we’re talking about a 3 hour class session, because that’s what a bunch of our programs have. And let’s use that example of the learning objectives we talked about earlier with identifying the safety hazards on a construction site and explaining those hazards to the supervisor.

J: Okay.

P: So in this case, the instructor might plan to spend the first 30 or so minutes of the lesson going over some high-level examples of safety hazards, like fires, fall risks, and faulty equipment, and explaining some things to take into consideration when talking with a site supervisor. After this, the instructor might post photos of different construction sites around the room, or in team breakout rooms if they’re teaching online, and invite students to spend the next hour in groups marking the hazards they see. After that, students could spend the next hour explaining those hazards to each other, as if they were talking with a site supervisor, making sure to highlight what the hazard is, why it’s an issue, and what they can do about it. The instructor could then invite students to spend the rest of the time sharing what they did with the rest of the class, so students have the chance to see what hazards everyone else found and learn from one another. So all of those combined could fill up the 3 hour block.

J: Right. It also sounds like they clearly address the learning objectives, too.

P: Exactly. And this is just one way the instructor could do that. What’s nice about it, though, is that each activity is given a set amount of time, and the instructor can always move things around as needed.

J: That sounds good to me! What other strategies could instructors use?

P: Right. And so sticking with the same example as before, another strategy instructors can use is something called flipping the classroom, which usually involves the instructor having students do some kind of prep work for homework ahead of time, which lets students come to class ready to engage in some kind of hands-on activity. In this case, instead of spending the first 30 or so minutes of class going over possible safety hazards and things to take into consideration when talking with a supervisor, the instructor could record themselves giving that talk beforehand and have students watch it for homework. This would let students come to class ready to jump right into the photograph activity we talked about earlier, and would free up that first 30 or so minutes, in case the instructor wanted to spend more time on the activities or talk about something else.

J: That all makes sense to me! Thanks for sharing.

P: You bet!

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