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Indicator 1 – Students Off-Task

Managing the Classroom

Engaging Students in Learning

Indicator 1 - Students Off-Task UETS 2d., 3a., 3c., 3d.

Effective teachers keep students on-task, because the more students are engaged in learning, the more they learn. The difference between mastery and non-mastery for a student needing remediation with a specific concept is equivalent to an hour of extra instruction every two weeks,­ about six minutes per school day.


  1. Expect and promote appropriate behavior with short, direct comments that name students and tell them what they should be doing.
    • “Jack, I need your work in ten minutes.”
    • “Mary and Laura, track the teacher.”
    • “Max, good! I see that you finished the first part. We need to get all three parts completed by the end of the class period.”
  1. Remind the students of posted classroom rules when they are off-task.
    • “Linda, if you have finished your assignment you can choose another activity from the fast-finisher box. Remember, one of our rules is to respect people who are busy working.”
    • “Bradley, think about what to do, and look at our class rules. Do you see what you need to do?”
    • “Class, do a body check, and show me learning position.”
    • “When we are working with our groups today, remember our cooperative learning procedures.”
  1. Clearly outline rules, expectations, objectives and instructional items for the day's lesson. Ask a student or students to repeat the directions you have stated.
    • Write the daily objective or “I can” statement on the board.
    • State or write instructions in a clear manner for students to refer to.
  1. Be specific and clear when presenting information to students to reduce potential for off-task behavior.
    • “While you’re working on this assignment, stay in your seats, and raise your hands for questions.”
    • Before assigning independent work, check that students have a clear understanding of the content and procedures.
    • During independent work time, frequently scan the room, and circulate and assist students as necessary. Examine student work and adjust instruction accordingly.
  1. Check the pace of your lesson. Presenting information too slowly or too quickly can lead to off-task behavior. Review the appropriateness of your curriculum. Is it so easy students are finishing activities in a few minutes or so hard you are inundated with questions? Are you showing enthusiasm with the activities? If you are interested, the students will probably also be engaged.
    • Keep activities and tasks to appropriate amounts of time to maximize time on-task. Break up the class period, moving between instruction, students working in pairs or groups, discussion of the student work, independent work, checking for understanding, and time for wrapping up the lesson, referring back to the lesson objective at the end.

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