So we know students need to sit still to accomplish some school tasks, but we don’t want to keep them sitting for too long. How can we minimize the amount of time we require children to sit still?
One great strategy is to keep direct teaching lessons short. A friend and colleague of mine once shared this piece of wisdom about lesson-length with me: “The first minute of the lesson is the golden moment, when students are ready and able to take in everything you say. The last thirty seconds is the silver moment, when you can really drive home a point and students are refocused. Everything in between is the leaden moment.”
This might be a bit extreme, but the point is worth considering. How long can students remain focused during direct instruction? I know that I myself tend to drift after about 10 minutes of a lecture.
Try structuring lessons so that direct teaching takes 5–10 minutes and then give students a chance to practice and apply what they’ve learned. You can always regroup and conduct another 5–10 minute direct teaching lesson later on if you have more teaching to do!
Mike Anderson is a Responsive Classroom consultant and author of several books, including three in the What Every Teacher Needs to Know series.