Going Overtime

Mistakes I Vow Never to Repeat #1 – Going Overtime

There’s two minutes of class left, and Mrs. M is still going on and on about the bullet points on her lecture slides. I turn to my left and see that my classmate is equally unimpressed. She frowns at me and points at her wrist as if to indicate the time. Students are getting restless and begin to pack their bags. One guy has his head down on the table and appears fast asleep.  

“And one last thing before you go, I just wanted to point out the importance of goal setting…” Mrs. M drones on. She flips to the next slide.

“And one MORE thing, which I think is important to mention…” I groan internally and wonder how many “last things” she still has to point out – there were a total of three. 

By the time she finally ended we were ten minutes overtime and she still wasn’t finished. There were three handouts she wanted us to pick up on our way out, and by that point I had already stopped caring. 

A good teacher should be respectful of students’ time. When students know a class is about to end, their bags are usually packed five minutes ahead of time. As a teacher, there are strategies (link to be added later) for keeping your students busy near the end of a period, but lecturing is NOT the way to do it. 

What could Mrs. M have done better? For one, I would have appreciated if she recognized that the last ten minutes of class is probably the worst time to introduce new material. As with the handouts, she could have laid those out on a table prior to class and have students pick them up on the way in. That way, students don’t feel like they’ve been giving extra “work” at the end of class. 

I’m currently taking a two hour elective course that runs from 3:50 pm-5:50 pm, and for me, it’s a BIG struggle to stay awake during those times, especially if someone is lecturing at me. The incident I described above is real (it happened today), and the worst part of that is that my instructor has consistently been going overtime. No matter how pressured you as a teacher may feel to finish your lesson when there’s only two minutes of class time left – I urge you not to. First off, it’s more likely than not that we’re all just staring at the clock anyway. Secondly, getting your points through to your students will not be effective when they are all probably thinking about how hungry they are, or how they have other commitments to get to (e.g. another class). You begin to walk yourself into hostile territory when you run classes overtime because students will quickly lose interest in the class and their respect for you. 

One Comment

  1. The other people that are being disrespected are the teacher’s colleagues. Not only are the student’s between class time being taken up, but their late arrival to the next class interupts the next instructor’s lesson.

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