An Alarming Truth About Transitional Events

A teacher walks into a chaotic classroom; students have come back inside from recess and the buzz is infectious. Students chatter in their groups completely unaware of their teacher at the chalkboard. She gazes down at her watch and discovers she is now 5 minutes late to start her math lesson and it will probably be another 5 minutes before she can actually begin to teach. She stands her ground, with finger to lip and the other hand holding a peace sign above her head she waits patiently for students to notice her and quiet down. She has to squeeze math into the hour widow between recess and lunch, but the transition from recess takes 10 minutes, and then they must finish early to gather lunchboxes and walk to the cafeteria. From the allotted hour, math is only being taught and practiced for 45 minutes, if there are no further interruptions. 

This may seem like a fictional story but this is happening in the classrooms all over the world. The amount of instructional time lost to transitional events (ie moving children from one event to the next) is alarming. An article published by Timo Saloviita in the European Journal of Educational Research highlights a study which was conducted to determine the minutes lost during the start of a lesson. The results concluded just how alarming this problem is. Saloviita concluded, “For various reasons lesson starts were delayed by an average of about six minutes. Calculated on this basis, the total loss of instructional time in the whole school year was about five weeks of schooling.” Losing months of instructional time may explain why some schools are receiving a failing test score. Transitional events are inevitable. However, losing over a month of instructional time is inexcusable. So, the question becomes is there a solution? 

We live in a world fueled by technology and yet the educational world continues to live in the “Stone Age.” Technology has helped many businesses become more effective, so why not apply this same methodology to schools. Imagine if the business world had not evolved with technology and everyone still communicated through pagers. The thought is simply ridiculous; however, the same chalk boards in the 90s are still being used in classrooms today. Technology can help improve the effectiveness of teachers. One example of an effective technology in the classroom is the classroom noise meter, found here:

Instead of the teacher waiting for students to quiet down to begin a lesson, the noise meter can be viewed as soon as students enter the classroom. Students can visually see how loud the classroom is and work to keep the noise meter in a certain color. This visual tool could drastically decrease the transitional time at the beginning of a lesson. 
Transitional events in the classroom are unavoidable. However, decreasing the devastating loss of instructional time is crucial to the future of our students. Technology is one way to help improve classroom management and instructional time. The educational world must begin to use technology to flourish in this ever changing world.

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