Time-on-Task: A Teaching Strategy that Accelerates Learning

Get tips for maximizing time on task, a teaching strategy that maximizes the amount of time that teachers and students spend on school-related activities.

teaching strategies

This is guest article by Lori Wade

Time is very vital in everything we do. For many teachers, lack of time is the main reason why they were not able to deal with their student's specific needs. So, every time the teacher and students meet, it should be worthwhile and productive. Along with this, teachers are finding ways how they can reduce unnecessary downtime and optimize the learning process. 

Typically, a teacher has only one and half-hour to meet with her students. So, if each day she loses five minutes of quality time with her students, it will equate to fifteen hours wasted for a 180 day school year. Those time spent could have made a difference for each student, especially for those who are struggling learners. 

Teachers should focus on the “time on task (PDF)”. It is the amount of time the teachers and learners spend on school-related activities. Some studies proved that schools that give importance to time on task have a high number of students that excel academically. 

To help teachers maximize student learning time and reduce downtime and improve time on task, below are some of the strategies that they can follow:

Plan and Prepare and Practice

Yes, many teachers are aware of this, but are they doing it correctly? If you will meet your students for one and a half hours, make sure to plan a productive activity that will consume the time given. Under-planning is not a good idea. 

Let’s say a teacher plans a one-hour activity only, and the students were able to finish it within 45 minutes, and you failed to prepare extra activities for them, you will be wasting around 45 minutes in a day. If the teacher has been practicing this and repeating the same plan throughout the school year, it means the students have spent their 135 hours in school doing nothing. 

Teachers should practice over-planning as it will help the students more. Also, in order not to waste time, the teachers should always come early and prepare their materials before the students arrive. 

Some teachers overlooked the importance of practice. One of the essential components of planning and preparing is practice. Teachers can resolve any issues that might go along the way during the class if they practice the lessons and activities beforehand.

Develop Efficient Learning Methods

The secret for active and efficient students is a well-organized and effective learning method. Teachers who do their job well, like getting all students to participate in class activities and make sure the learning procedures are being implemented as planned, can produce better students. Some of the activities include submitting assignments on time, completing group works, and others. 

Proper Transition

Transitions take place when you switch from lesson or activity to another. If done wrongly, the learning process is reduced. On the other hand, if the transition is executed correctly, the teachers will be able to teach their students well. The transition is also one way for teachers to take back the valuable time wasted. 

Transition includes changing one class to another. Students should learn to carry the right materials for their next class, be in their designated seats, and be ready for the next subject before the class period begins. 

Maintain Supremacy in the Classroom

Because of having poor management skills, teachers lose some valuable instructional time with their students. Some teachers get too close to their students that they allow them to take time to prepare for the next lesson and let time slip away.

Having less control in the classroom and spending more time on correcting their students rather than teaching them is such a waste of time. If the teachers can develop effective classroom management skills where learning is given importance, students will respect them more. Thus, procedures are set and followed, and expectations are met.

Focus on the Task

Teachers get distracted easily and turned away from the topic. Some students are skilled in doing this. They can easily get the teacher's attention and engage them is a senseless discussion not related to the subject matter. To reduce such incidence and maximize student learning time, teachers should remain in control of the classroom environment. 

Provide Clear and Brief Directions

Students can easily follow you if you provide a clear and to the point directions. The instructions should be easy to understand and straightforward. Confusing or poorly structured directions can make the lesson hard to understand and will turn the learning environment into complete anarchy. It can take away essential learning time and disrupts the learning process. 

Well-Structured directions are given in different formats written and verbally. Some teachers allow some students to summarize the directions before presenting them to the class and get the activity started. 

Final Thoughts 

The effective way of increasing student’s time-on-task is by enhancing the teacher’s strategy in teaching and understanding. Teachers should develop high-quality teaching focused on providing clear and easy to understand instructions and proper classroom management. 

Based on research, improving teacher’s time management techniques is a good start. To help them track their time, they can search for an efficient tool like the time tracking for basecamp.

Need help learning new teaching strategies?

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Lori Wade

Guest Author, Journalist & Content Editor, Writer (more)
Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville. She is a content writer who has experience in small editions, Lori is now engaged in news and conceptual articles on the topic of business. If you are interested in an entrepreneur or lifestyle, you can find her on Twitter & LinkedIn. She has good experience and knowledge in the field. (less)


Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville. She is a content writer who has experience in small editions, Lori is now engaged in news and conceptual articles on the topic of business. If you are interested in an entrepreneur or lifestyle, you can find her on Twitter & LinkedIn. She has good experience and knowledge in the field.