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Why Timers are Good for Your Classroom

My first year of teaching I struggled. My classroom management was rough and my students were not independent. Flash forward a few years. I now teach first grade and I put a lot of focus on creating problem solving, independent students. My classroom is much more productive and the community is stronger!


Timers provide students with clear expectations for time management. With modeling and practice, students can become more independent. Timers provide a visual to match the time expectation. Timers help the teacher uphold the time stated and stay on task, students become aware of the block of time available to complete their work, and the timer can create a sense of motivation for students.

2. The Future and Life Skills

Whether it is always comfortable or not, timelines and deadlines are a part of life. Providing timers for my first graders creates accountability and maturity in my classroom. For example, there have been many times when students in my classroom have let me know if a timer has accidentally paused, when there are x number of minutes left, when there is a need for additional time. I love that my students are able to advocate for additional time when needed. It is okay to ask for additional time, and having the timer as a visual lets students know when to anticipate work time to end. I also notice my students working hard on the tasks that are mandatory (must do) right away, so that they can move on to choice center items. Utilizing timers has taught invaluable lessons and life skills. Independence, accountability, and the concept of time.

3. Boundaries

Timers create clear boundaries in the classroom. When the timer is on, it is work time. When the timer ends, it cues the beginning of a transition. Students know that when the timer is on there is a specific task or work to be completed. They can ask for support or extra time as needed, but it helps to define and label the time so it is never unclear how much time there is to work on something.

4. Community

Beyond academic advantages and life skills, having a strong classroom community is so important. I have found that utilizing timers and building more independent students has created a community in my classroom. The students in my classroom now have a stronger sense of time. They are able to recognize when they need more time on an activity and ask for help from me or a peer, as appropriate. My students are problem solvers in many different ways. My students are accountable for their actions and work. My students care about their peers and help them as needed to ensure that they are getting what they need as well. These words like accountability, independence, etc may seem large, but they are attainable in the elementary school setting with the right supports. My students have a great sense of responsibility and respect for each other.

Create a culture and community in your classroom.

Classroom independence is built. Set the expectations and routines that you want for your students.

Provide clear expectations and supports for your students.

Start by using timers as transitions or to support some parts of your day to provide visuals and supports. Click here (or the image below!) to get a free set of transition timers to try with your students.

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