Classhack: Pass It On

paperworkIn his book Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College, Author Doug Lemov describes many simple techniques that are of value in college classrooms as well. He credits a time-saving strategy to Doug McCurry of Amistad Academy in New Haven, Connecticut. Noting that passing out or taking up papers is a recurrent event in his classroom, McCurry uses a stopwatch to coach his students toward completion of the task in the shortest possible time. By saving one minute per paper pass, he estimates that he saves the equivalent of eight instructional days per year.

You may not save that much time in a typical college class, but, as Lemov notes later in Teach Like a Champion

“Time is water in the desert, a teacher’s most precious resource: to be husbanded, guarded, and conserved. Every minute matters.”

What is the best way to pass papers? Lemov suggests across rows, rather than requiring students to perform a 180° turn to pass papers back or receive them from behind. He also advocates having packets on a table for students to pick up rather than passing documents out at the door or during the class. Since our copy paper tends to be diabolically sticky, I find it helpful to divide the papers into counted stacks before class. Being efficiently well-prepared sends a message to students that you are serious about their learning and that you value your time with them.

Do you have a favorite way to distribute papers or another time-saving technique to share?

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