As students get older, most schools go to a longer class time. Typically, classes last between fifty and ninety minutes, depending on the way the school is set up and the style of the classes. Ideal class length, however, is much shorter. Maintaining a shorter duration for classes, like the thirty minute classes at The Tenney School, allows students to maximize their learning time and experience a number of rewards. If you prefer, we put together a somewhat updated video version of this article.
Student Attention Span
Even college-level students only have an average attention span of about ten minutes, particularly when it comes to sitting in a chair and listening to instruction. Any lecture that last longer than that is sure to end with students missing a chunk of the instructional material as their minds wander. While there are plenty of strategies for maintaining student attention, including removing distractions and providing plenty of movement breaks, one of the most critical strategies for improving student attention is to break up the instruction into smaller periods of time–and that’s exactly what The Tenney School provides for its students.
Disadvantages of Longer Class Times
Many teachers argue that they’re able to break up student learning time on their own. A teacher who has the same students in their classroom for ninety minutes can certainly work to break up the class structure, but there are several things that work against students when class times are dragged out.
- Teachers spend more time on classroom maintenance. When you know that you have ninety minutes, it’s easier to stretch out things like taking attendance, taking up papers, and other daily tasks. Before they know it, valuable instruction time is gone.
- It’s easier for teachers to judge the length of their lessons. The longer the lesson, the harder it becomes to judge exactly how long something is going to take.
- There’s often empty instructional time at the end of the class. Teachers are aware that they can only give students so much information at a time. They work in time to get a head start on homework, time for questions that students might not have, and simply allow students to socialize at the end of class in order to “give them a break” instead of teaching from bell to bell.
- There’s little evidence that offers any benefit concerning longer class times.
The Advantages of Shorter Classes
Shorter classes, on the other hand, provide a number of advantages that students at The Tenney School are able to enjoy every day.
- Constantly shifting classes break up the day and prevent boredom.
- Learning time is maximized as teachers work quickly to incorporate the day’s necessary instruction.
- Instruction is fresh and changed on a regular basis.
- Teachers dive straight into instruction as soon as the class starts, with fewer interruptions for maintenance.
- Students actually receive more total class time as a result of shortened periods. Longer class periods lead to less total time spend in a given class.
- There’s less instructional time lost for each individual class as a result of days off, including both days off for weather-related emergencies and individual sick days for students.
- Students have more time to learn new material. This is particularly useful for classes like math and languages, where one skill builds on another and students need time to practice and consider the material before proceeding to the next step in the process.
If you’re looking for a school where student needs are taken into consideration and class times are shortened to improve student learning potential, contact us. We’ll commit to building a school environment that offers more opportunities for your student while encouraging them to fully reach their academic potential.