One of the things that I’m finding that many schools are working on recently is building intensity of instruction.  Intense instruction can be a hard thing to define and to build.  So, I have set out to explain it and then give some little (but mighty!) ways to build intensity from the first moment of the day or class period.

I will say, that setting the intensity first thing is super important..I find it really hard to get intensity back after a couple of hour of not-so-intense teaching.  But I never give up even if I’ve gotten off to a rougher start!

First, let me define what instructional intensity is:

Instructional intensity is the number of student required interactions/responses

in a short period of time on important grade level content

Here are a few ways that we can measure instructional intensity:

Required Interaction Required Response
The teacher teaches something new and the students engaged with the new content Physical
The teacher corrects a student/s and the student engages in the corrected content Oral
The teacher orchestrates tight practice of an already-taught skill that needs more repetition



Here are 6 things you can do to start your day off with intensity (Note: they might seem minor, but they really matter!)

  1. Greet the students at the door with a timed task related to your content
  2. Pull your kids close to give them the lowdown on the first big content chunk of the day: “Today we are going to learn __________________.  Here’s what that is going to require you to have on your desk __________________.  Go set up your desks now.  You have 45 seconds.  Go!  Now that we have our materials set up, I am going to teach you what our lesson is going to require of your behavior and movement.” {Then teach the academic behaviors they’ll need to master!}
  3. Use a timer and give students much less time that you think they’ll need to transition
  4. Give directions when you have all eyes on you and never, ever compromise on this!
  5. When students don’t give you the exact behavior you have explained, ask them to do it all again and look for opportunities to give them praise
  6. Tell them what you’re going to teach them, tell them what they are learning while they’re learning it, review what you taught them at the end of the lesson

BONUS:  Think of your whole day in 10-minute chunks: “What do I need my students to have learned/to be doing in the next 10 minutes to hit my mark?”