Vignettes 38 – 40   ALL ABOUT TIME



These days many many children have difficulty in telling the time. It is important that children learn to tell and to appreciate time as early in life as possible. One of the things heading to confusion is the fact that we have both digital and analogue time telling devices.

I would strongly suggest the wisdom in having a decent analog clock in each classroom. If the school doesn’t supply clocks, a quite readable analog can be purchased from any supermarket for no more than about six or seven dollars. The clock would need to be of sufficient size to be clearly read from the back of the classroom. The numbers ‘1’ to ’12’ are preferable to those with other markers denoting five minute intervals.
While more expensive I would also suggest a digital clock to be displayed somewhere in the room. That will help students when it comes to comparisons between analogue and digital time telling.

No device is of any use if it is ignored! To that end, reference to time by teachers is important. There are many games available that help students when it comes to time telling. Another strategy may be for teachers to draw attention to the clock(s) as the day reaches towards milestones. That may be recess, lunchtime, home time, the start of art, physical education lessons and so on. I believe that after a period of time children will begin to learn to avert their eyes toward clocks and possibly to remind the teacher about what is coming up and what is happening next.

Time telling is very much a part of functional literacy. People who don’t know how to tell the time can become quite lost.

To appreciate time quotients it may help for teachers to tell students undertaking activities at what time that lesson is due to finish. They then begin to understand how long they have to go. This can help students organise their time and to work out how much should have been completed by the time a particular period in lapses.

A useful activity is to give children blank clock faces and ask them by inserting minute and hour hands, to show particular times dictated in a mental exercise. Variation on this might be to ask students to show their favourite time of the day and why it is that this is a highlight time.

To develop exercises drawing attention to both analogue and digital time telling is a way of having students understand both methodologies.

This might sound like an exercise that is never ending. However children will become time literate with practice and importantly have an understanding of what time means. Time management is an issue that often challenges people, including adults. To help students gain an understanding and appreciation of time and why it is important cannot be overstated.



It is easy to make the mistake as teachers, of thinking we have to approach teaching in a rip, tear, rush manner. There is so much to be taught and so little time in which to do it, that the only option is to cram and cram. It is easy to think like that because of the huge load placed on schools and staff.

Learning takes time. Brain and cognitive development does not come all at once. Rather the process is graduated and in sync with the overall physical and mental development of children. We need to keep this in mind, teaching empathetically and patiently.

This is not an easy exercise in our modern classrooms. There is so much pressuring in and upon teachers, that quite often the only thing of seeming importance is to cram in as much learning opportunity as possible. Children need to have time to understand and digest the concepts being taught. The traditional lesson of introducing new concepts, teaching then revising and extending in the cyclical way was a good method of operation. It still works in this day and age. Crowding too much into shorter periods of time will leave students with half understandings and cause them to be very frustrated learners.

Reinforcement is important. The joy of learning is to understand what one has been offered from a learning viewpoint. This means pacing learning steadily and carefully, not always easy because of the imperatives trust on teachers. Getting the balance right between quantity (volume” and quality (manner of teaching”) is important. Volume learning is frustrating for students. The emphasis on quantity so that ticks can be placed against lists of things to be taught to the disadvantage of quality is unfortunate.

One way of a judging how well students are learning is to take them aside individually or in small groups is to discuss with them what’s been taught. If they can come back to you in a relaxed conversational manner showing understanding then it becomes clear that the right quantity/quality nexus is being met. If students appear to have no clues at all, then obviously the amount being crammed is overdone.

I believe that learning opportunities have to be consistent but “making haste slowly” is developing teaching in the right direction. One quality that is absolutely necessary when teaching is to have patience, to be prepared to spend time doing things with children so that learning sticks.


Teachers need to remember that there is more to life than teaching. I believe it important for teachers take time to relax and in that relaxation to get right away from their professional obligations. One good way of doing this is to leave school at school and not to take it home. It may be that teachers start work early or leave school late in order to accomplish what needs to be done; that is wiser than putting school into bags and cases to take home in order to work on at night.

Teachers need relaxation, time with families, and to extend their interests and activities to life beyond classrooms. Dedication is important but to become introverted and narrowly focused on teaching and classroom does little to expand personal development for educators. Already a great deal of “out of class room” time is asked of teachers for extra curricular activities associated with schools. Then there’s the professional development needs that ask teachers to spend time after work and at weekends honing their professional skills. school camps, reporting nights and the many, many hours it takes to prepare school reports add to the extracurricular list.

While most teachers are motivated by the desire to work with and develop children, the issue of reward does come into contention. NT Teachers are paid for 36.75 hours each week. However, the vast majority put in 15 or 20, sometimes more hours each week over and above the time recognised by renumeration. This time is generally given willingly. It is easy to see why teaching can become a profession that totally consumes people.

Work life balance is important, and something that should always be taken into account.

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