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Using Class Time Effectively

Organization is critical for student success. Time management, correct materials, and thoughtful preparation before class contribute to improved learning.

Students spend an average of six hours a day in school for at least 180 days a year.  For the average middle school or high school student, those days are segmented into seven or eight class periods.  These classes can range from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half, depending upon whether the school follows a traditional or block schedule.  Hence, students experience a number of teaching styles and classroom settings on any give day.  Wouldn’t it be wise for the student to attempt to optimize his class-time experience every day?    A little forethought and preparation can help him to be more productive in class and allow him become an active and vital part of the learning process. 

Ideally, class preparation should take place the night before a class. The motivated student reviews his notes every evening, and then he can read the material anticipated for the next class meeting.  Therefore, he actually
encounters the information for the second time when he attends class. So class time serves to reinforce and expand concepts instead of simply introducing them. 

A student should be on time and be prepared with the appropriate supplies like pens, paper, an assignment book, and a calculator.  Ideally, he should carry only the textbook or notes for the class he is entering, so he is not burdened with an oversized backpack.  In the few moments before class time, he can review notes from this subject’s previous class or from homework, especially if he needs any points clarified before the teacher moves on to new material. 

He also needs to pick a good seat.  Seemingly minor details such as seat placement can have a significant impact on a student’s perception of a class.  When provided with an opportunity to select their seats, many students gravitate to the back of the room.  However, if a student is serious about class participation, he will choose a seat that is more visible and provides fewer distractions: one that will allow him to pay attention.  Any student with vision or hearing problems should be sure to choose a desk that provides the best line or vision or maximum hearing capability.  

Furthermore, many speakers have a natural tendency to favor one side of a room, based on their dominant side.  For example, when facing a class, a right-handed teacher may look and walk on the right side of the room.  Therefore, that teacher may call on students located in her field of vision, which is the front-left of the room.  Consequently, those students may inadvertently receive more attention than students in other areas of the classroom.   So a perceptive student can actually select a seat that provides maximum attention. 

When listening to a lecture, the student should be sure to be an active participant.  Most people retain only a small fraction of what they hear (about 20%), so the student should take notes while the teacher
talks.  

Generally, most information that a teacher writes on a board or transparency is important, so the student should include it in his notes.  He should be concise and use the best method to aid his memory.   Therefore, he need not write in complete sentences; rather, he should attempt to capture the relevant points in his own words or in a graphical representation if that method better suits his learning style.   Above all, he should be suremthat he understands what he has written before he leaves the classroom.  Putting an effort into organization willyield benefits and rewards for the student. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dr. Alfred C. Whitehead November 13, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Laura... I agree with you. The one issue I would like to see you address is parental responsibility and participation with the child's readiness for class at home. I think it is just as important that the student has a management plan for home as well?
Laura I. Maniglia November 21, 2012 at 10:43 AM
Yes, parents are vital to student success!

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