5 Reasons You Need Timers for the Classroom

5 Reasons You Need Timers for the Classroom

Timers for the classroom are the easiest classroom management strategy. In today’s fast-paced world, effective time management is a skill everyone needs.

Timers for the classroom.

Why Do We Need Timers For The Classroom?

Students who are on the cusp of shaping their future. Timers, though seemingly simple tools, can be game-changers in a classroom environment. From keeping students on task to fostering self-management skills, timers can serve multiple pedagogical purposes.

I use them for everything, transitions, think-time, focus time, and for assignments. They keep my classes on pace and students always know how much time they have to complete an assignment.

Watch the video for more tips on how to incorporate timers in your classroom!

1. Time Management and Student Autonomy

Time management is not merely about doing things quickly; it’s about doing them efficiently. In educational settings, it’s easy for both teachers and students to lose track of time, leading to rushed or unfinished tasks. Does this sound familiar? This is me. I set timers for the classroom in every class.

The introduction of timers can help students become more aware of the time they are taking for different tasks, fostering a sense of independence. A study published in the Journal of Applied School Psychology found that the use of timers can significantly improve students’ academic engagement and completion rates. This was a game changer for me! As soon as I learned about timers for the classroom, I changed how I ran my classroom. I had more time and more productivity.

This is my warm-up timer!

2. Setting a Rhythm for Classroom Activities

Classroom timers set a steady rhythm for both academic and non-academic tasks. For instance, implementing a timer during reading sessions can encourage students to focus for a set period, after which they can discuss or reflect upon what they have read. My students have difficulty concentrating. Tech addiction has left many kids with short attention spans. Timers for the classroom projected on the board really helps them focus for set amounts of time.

When used judiciously, timers can facilitate this by making it easier for students to dive into reading activities with increased concentration. Every year it’s a bit of work in progress, but eventually students can focus for longer periods of time.

3. Breaking Tasks into Manageable Segments

The Pomodoro Technique is a well-researched method that involves breaking work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes, separated by short breaks. Educators can adapt this strategy to fit the classroom setting, thereby making tasks less overwhelming for students. Research by Francesco Cirillo, the inventor of the Pomodoro Technique, suggests that such time management methods can improve attention span and concentration (Link to Study).

For example, I keep my 54 minute class broken down into: 2x 20-minute activities, 1 5-minute activity, a 7-minute activity, and 2 45-second transitions. It sounds rigid but it’s not. Sometimes I reset timers or skip one. The idea is to give students, and myself, a way to keep pace. I am really that stereotype of an English teacher. My desk is a mess, I am always looking for something, and we are always moving at 1,00000 mi/hr, so I need something that will help keep me in check or I will never finish anything. Yep, I am *that* teacher. Ha!

Practically, keeping time also allows me to see which classes are progressing at speed and which will need more time to complete an assignment.

I use these times for the classroom when I have students complete short answer responses.

4. Fostering a Sense of Urgency and Focus

The ticking clock of a timer often serves as a reminder that time is finite. This can induce a mild sense of urgency that prevents students from drifting into daydreams or other distractions. An experimental study in the “Journal of Experimental Psychology” revealed that time pressure can enhance focus and efficiency, as long as it does not escalate into extreme stress (Link to Study).

Little pressure, not big pressure. I don’t want to create anxiety in the classroom. I remind students as I walk around the class that they should be “working on x now” or “moving onto x”. It does help to keep them focused.

5. Implementing Timers for the Classroom

For educators interested in literacy and education reform, the use of timers presents a compelling case for an educational strategy grounded in data. I analyze how effective time management correlates with academic performance in my classroom. So far, I’ve had great results.

For example, transitioning to a new topic or location can take a long time. Teachers age about 4,000 years while waiting for students to complete a task. Once I implemented the transition timer, students get it together and we all laugh about getting to the next task within time.

This is my 45-second transition timer. It’s magical. Kids get ready on time!

Conclusion: Effective Use of Timers for the Classroom

In summary, timers for the classroom are not merely counting tools but instrumental aids in shaping the future citizens of tomorrow. By implementing timers for the classroom effectively, educators can cultivate a classroom environment that is productive, focused, and oriented toward skill-building for the long term.

So the next time you walk into your classroom, consider using a timer. I use them daily and they’ve saved my sanity. Students are more focused and are learning to concentrate better. Enjoy!

Bonus timer for your classroom. 🙂


I am an educator with almost 15 years of experience teaching in Japan, Hawaii, and in Los Angeles. My goal is to change education and the way we view literacy instruction in America.

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