Hallway Time vs Class Time

It drives me crazy when kids ask to go to their locker…..for whatever the reason is. A pencil, their textbook, a jacket, that snack that they meant to bring but forgot. And then there are the bathroom breaks, the water breaks, the “I have to phone my mom” breaks.

I’m not a tyrant. If a kid needs to go to the washroom I let them go. A kid who has to go the washroom and isn’t allowed to will think about nothing else for the rest of class except the fact that their bladder is really full. So keeping them in class is pretty much pointless because they won’t be learning anything from you anyways.

I forget the name of the keynote speaker I saw at convention who talked about out of class time and how it really adds up. Let’s assume that a student leaves the class (for whatever reason) and has “hallway time” (which is anytime they are out of the classroom during class time) for approximately 5 minutes a day.

There are 180 school days in a year. If you multiply this by 5 minutes a day you get 900 minutes. There are 60 minutes in an hour. So this translates into roughly 15 hours a year.

In my school, classes are 63 minutes long and there are 5 of them, so that’s 315 minutes. If they are missing 900 minutes a year due to “hallway time” then they are actually missing almost THREE FULL DAYS of school. And let me be clear, the estimate that kids are only missing 5 minutes a day is incredibly low. I’ve read various information that suggests “hallway time” for an average Grade 8 student varies anywhere from 5 – 18 minutes throughout the course of a given school day. And that in extremes it can be as high as 35 minutes.

So lets assume worst case average scenario……18 minutes. That’s not even that much time when you think about it. It’s 2 minutes before school, and 3 minutes to get my assignment I forgot in my locker, and an extra 2 minutes when coming in from recess, 5 minutes to go to the bathroom, 2 minutes to get my pencil…..

But in overall education time? 3240 minutes or over 10 full school days……

Or 5.5% of their year.

So my challenge as an educator now becomes……how do I get the kids to want to STAY in my classroom once they are there. What do I do to make it so engaging in my classroom that my students will turn to a friend and ask for a pencil instead of using it as an excuse to leave my room? What do I do……so that they don’t want to leave my classroom unless it’s an absolute emergency…..?

What do I do……?

I don’t know right now. But I’m sure going to put my best effort into finding out.


About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
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One Response to Hallway Time vs Class Time

  1. Lee Winik says:

    Great post. Being a junior high teacher myself I can certainly empathize with the problem you are suffering. I’m not sure what the answer is myself. I try to minimize the breaks by allowing the kids to go one at a time. Sometimes this works as the student, forgets that they wanted to leave earlier (I don’t remind them.). I face the same challenge as you, how to keep them best engaged for the full amount of time that I have them. I have to really rethink my approach to my students. Thanks for sharing!

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