Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Matter of Time

Changing the clock back to good old GMT is one of those Autumnal pleasures, like kicking up yellowing leaves on the pavement, cosy evenings in when the wind is picking up outside and awaiting the first frost of the season (no laughing…). The reasons for my preference of this season over daffodil-strewn Spring and the sticky heatwaves of Summer (I didn’t dream it, did I?) are multifarious and rather too long-winded for a public listing of them, but changing the clocks back just gives that sense of being ‘back on track’ after the temporary excursion into BST.

I wonder whether your students, if you and they are in a country that adheres to the practice, remembered to put their clocks back and arrive at their lessons on time. The subject of ‘Daylight Saving Time’ or changing the clocks for summer evolved into a very involving discussion with my students earlier this week, when each speculated over the origin of the measure before researching the answer online. We then set about brainstorming ways in which time alterations could accommodate people for reasons other than saving on incandescent lighting, the original motivation behind the switch to summertime. The great tradition of the Spanish siesta inevitable reared its sleepy head, as did the topic of work and study time.

As I mulled over the lessons of the morning I began thinking about the way that the time of a lesson, as well as its position amongst other lessons of the day, is/ should be reflected in the teacher’s planning. An aspect that I personally find very interesting to consider is that of the pre- and postprandial nature of a lesson approach, taking into account the ‘dip’ that typically occurs following lunch (perhaps especially for those hailing from parts of the world where a sandwich simply will not do). When I am due to deliver both morning and afternoon lessons in the same day, and with the same students, my lesson plans generally attest to a firmer focus on grammar, study skills and the nitty-gritty aspects of a topic that post-lunchtime sees more language activation and practical application.

The funny thing is that, although I can now safely theorise about the advantages of this strategy, it didn’t actually begin as a strategy, nor was it conceived of in any conscious way at all. It has, rather, emerged, without a definitive ‘green light’. My validation now begins with the notion that most students, even those who might have missed breakfast, are likely to be more ‘switched on’ in the hours (immediately) preceding lunchtime than in those that follow it, while more communicative tasks enable us to take advantage of the energy stores recently bolstered by the midday meal.

The question that I am interested in is how others, either deliberately or otherwise, feel that their lessons are influenced by the time of day that they take place. Has a lesson you have given turned out differently from a plan due to this factor or some aspect relating to it?