How frustrating it is to carefully present and explain something to a class, and then find at the next meeting that the students remember very little, if any, of what you took such careful pains to explain and demonstrate! It sometimes seems this “forgetfulness” increases with the age and intelligence of the students. Can we overcome this “inertia of learning?” A learning principle often overlooked is timing.
Timing is Everything!
Question: During a class of one hour, when is the optimal time for students to absorb and remember new skills?
Would you guess at the beginning of the class? Halfway through the class? Or at the very end of class? What would be your best guess? Now, if you guessed wrong, you are in good company.
Most teachers I have talked with seem to feel that the middle of the class should be the best time to get the students’ attention, and to have them remember what they are taught.
Surprise! Halfway through the class is the very worst time for students to retain anything! It’s what educators call the “dead spot.” And, it seems that the length of the class makes no difference. Halfway through any class of any length is not a good time to expect students to learn at their best.
When is the Best Time to Present Something New?
Greatest retention is found towards the end of the class. Next best is near the beginning of class.
To illustrate, let’s divide a one hour dance class into seven time blocks:
0-2 minutes: Starting the class.
– Students do need a little time to get their minds onto the ballet class and off other things. Have a familiar routine for starting the class.
2-10 minutes into the class
– Second best memory time; almost as good as the best time. For best learning, present the material here, then review it at the end of class.
10-20 minutes into the class
– Third best memory time.
20-30 minutes into the class
– Fourth best memory time.
30-40 minutes into the class
– The worst memory time! Put some fun, creative activities or a game (Here are some games and more games) into this part of the class. This will help to overcome the “dead spot,” and help the students to be more alert for the remainder of the class. This is the time when some students start asking if it is time to go home, or how much longer is class?
40-50 minutes into the class
– A good time for the practice of things already learned in previous lessons. Let this part of the class move quickly.
– The best memory time, but it needs to be carefully structured so their minds do not go “out the door” too soon! Briefly review what you want remembered, ask them to show it to you, and then be sure they take home a happy feeling!
By the way, the “dead spot” isn’t just a dead spot for the students, the teacher is most likely feeling it, too. The class seems to take on a slow and heavy feeling. Perking up the class will perk up the teacher, too.
Try arranging your lesson plans with this timing in mind. See if it doesn’t help the class to move a little smoother, and the students to remember things just a little better.
- Games for the Ballet Classroom
- 20 Ways to Create a Comfortable Class
- Planning From a Bird’s Eye View
- 6 “Must Haves” for Teaching Ballet