Timing and Pace; the Ultimate Challenge

Timing is defined as the choice, judgement, or control of when something should be done.

Pace is defined as the speed at which something happens. 

Timing and pace set the tone of your classroom and they are solely determined by you.  If your timing and pace are not synchronized, you will find the day to day running of your classroom a challenge.

Every new teacher finds timing and pace the ultimate challenge.  Mastering this skill in the classroom is achieved by: getting to know your students, careful planning, having a well flowing schedule, being flexible, taking risks, trial and error, and experience.

Getting to know your students:

I’ve been thinking about a rule of thumb to follow and came up with a simple mathematical solution; multiply your student’s age by 2.  This will be the number of minutes you have to complete your lesson; before you begin to lose the masses.

Once you get to know your students well, and as they mature throughout the year, you may find you can adjust the formula. As you plan your lessons, keep in mind the time restraints you will have as the year progresses.

Careful Planning

Possibly every teacher’s worst nightmare is to under plan.  Under planning leaves voids of time to be filled by what? Therefore, you need to plan carefully.

Over planning is highly recommended because what you don’t get done today, can be done tomorrow.

Always have an activity in your back pocket which can serve as a review or reinforcement of previously taught material for times of under planning.

Being Flexible

The wiki definition of the idiom the best laid plans sums this up well.

A proverbial expression used to signify the futility of making detailed plans when the ability to fully or even partially execute them is uncertain.

Teachers need to develop the ability to be flexible when things aren’t going the way they had planned. There may be a multitude of forces which come into play each day that cannot be planned for or anticipated.

This is when it is critical that you have the ability to be flexible.  If you aren’t flexible with your planning, you may find yourself working against forces you cannot control or stop.

Well Flowing Schedule

The schedule you follow in your own classroom should be a work of art.  When planning out your schedule, you firstly need to consider the needs of your students.  Secondly, consider what subject areas you need to cover and the time allotment needed for each.

Consider the following when planning your daily and weekly schedule:

  • attention span of your students
  • time spent in their seats
  • time spent at group areas
  • length of lessons
  • length of seat work periods
  • natural breaks in the day
  • time spent listening
  • time spent sharing
  • time on hands on activities
  • curriculum content

Your schedule should be balanced and flow naturally so students and yourself are moving easily through the day and week from one activity to another.

Be Willing To Take Risks

One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is trying something new.  It can be like a breath of fresh air for yourself and your students.

Taking yourself ‘out of your comfort zone’ can be be risky but also very rewarding when you feel and see the new growth in your teaching practice.  This risk taking will help you fine tune the timing and pace you establish in your classroom.

Trial and Error

Trial and error requires confidence and trust in yourself as an educator, colleague and role model. Consulting with others who have ‘stepped out of the box’ can help with the planning of new adventures in the classroom or bring new perspectives into your classroom to try.

Have faith in yourself and keep trying to fine tune your practice until you have your classroom running in a manner which works best for your students and yourself.


Experience speaks volumes but does not always have to be measured in years.  It can be measured in short snippets of time. The key to experience is learning, growing, and reflecting on what you have done and taking this forward with you into the future.

Final Thoughts

Placing yourself in front of a classroom of students day after day is a leap of faith in one’s ability to educate.  Have faith in yourself and your students; to enable you both to create a smoothrunnin’ classroom together.


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