So you teach for 25 minutes. Your next class starts in five minutes. That’s five minutes of down time. A break from the hyper-energetic, teacher-superhero persona you adopt for your sweet students. Five minutes of vacation!
A list of things you can do in 5 minutes:
- Use the bathroom.
- Grab a snack.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Organize a 1’x1′ corner of your desk.
- Pick a dinosaur sticker off the linoleum floor.
- Frantically erase six whiteboards.
- Sing a quick lullaby and kiss your kids goodnight.
- Mop the space where your feet go.
- Pull a Diet Pepsi out of the fridge, take a single drink and burp out the carbonation.
- Kill a bug crawling across the ceiling.
- Scarf down 3 Oreo cookies… but hurry!
- Put away four bowls and a plate from the dishwasher.
- Do ten jumping jacks!
Okay. But really. I have done every single one of the things on this list. I’ve also
stared blankly at my screen wondering what in the world I’m doing with my life, and why I would ever willingly be awake at this hour.
How do I get the fabled 5 minute break?
VIPKID classes are supposed to last for 25 minutes, nomore, no less. (Okay… so teach for 28 minutes if there is an IT problem) I usually try to get through all my content by 24:30 so that I know the goodbye will put me over 25 minutes. I never want to accidentally teach less than that. My five-minute break is my lifeline in long stretches of teaching! I need the time to prepare for the next class.
But how do I keep class to such a tight schedule?
In all honesty, I still struggle with this. I’ve included my best tips.
Use the warm-up and review slides to pre-teach.
In almost every class we’re given at least one or two slides of warm-up and review. I know that the students will have some knowledge of what is in the review section. It was most likely garnered from their previous lesson. I also know that this student needs to be saying a particular sentence, or using a particular word on slide 15. I’m going to introduce that word or sentence now so that it’s not new information when we get to that slide. For example…
The student needs to say the sentence “this is a bird”. (THIS IS NOT AN ACTUAL SENTENCE IN THE MOCK CLASSES! APPLY THE IDEA TO WHATEVER YOU’RE GIVEN.) Maybe the sentence doesn’t show up in the directions until slide 10, but there’s something on every slide where I could ask the target question (what is this) and teach the sentence structure “this is a…” Now when I get to slide 10 and they start learning about birds, all they
have to reme
mber is the word bird! They’re not trying to learn “bird”, the target question and the target sentence all in one go.
Review difficult words before asking the student to read.
If you have a passage that the student is supposed to read, and there are words like “knowledge”, or “language”, or “neighborhood”, or “explanation”, etc., take the time to review the pronunciation before the student reads. Consider the vocabulary they’re learning when you’re doing your prep. Are there words in the text that seem more difficult than the vocab? If so it might be good to teach the pronunciation.
You don’t need to extend on every slide.
Extension questions are great for inspecting a student’s conversation skills, but it isn’t necessarily necessary on every slide. It’s okay to move on if you’ve met the slide objectives, and the student doesn’t have any questions. You also may not need to extend if the material is repeated, or extended on the next slide. If the next slide feels repetitive, you probably don’t need to expand on the slide before.
Generally try to speed things up a little.
For the most part, you don’t need to completely change the way you teach. If you could shave 5 seconds off every slide, you’ll end up with an extra 2 minutes(ish)! That’s huge! Two minutes is the difference between being able to pee and scrambling to grab your props.
Enjoy your five minutes, fellow teachers!