What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is the ideal time management tool for both students and teachers which boosts focus, activates engagement, and increases concentration in the classroom, developing 21st-century skills.
A method based on 25-minute stretches of focused work broken up by 5-minute intervals of breaks, seen as small rewards.
Longer breaks, typically 15-30 minutes depending on the individual’s needs, are taken after four consecutive work periods.
Each of these work periods is called Pomodoro (the Italian word for tomato). This is because this technique was founded by entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo in the late 80s, when he was a university student, he used a kitchen timer, which looked like a tomato to organize his study schedule. After some trial and error, he settled on 25 minutes as the optimal time for his concentration and focus needs.
Since then, schools have adopted this relatively new technique to use not only for academic work but also to organize and manage their personal tasks and commitments.
Breakdown: The structure of the technique
Step 1: Plan the tasks you would like to complete in each ‘pomodoro’;
Step 2: Set the timer to 25 minutes;
Step 3: Work on the task until the timer sounds, then record the completion of the pomodoro;
Step 4: Take a short break; start with five minutes but know that it can be as little as two minutes;
Step 5: After four Pomodori, take a longer break; roughly 15-30 minutes, and repeat;
Within these short 5-minute breaks, teachers may encourage students to get moving around adding movement to the classroom, group conversations, or even simply just allow them to sit, relax and reflect.
Don’t forget to include one Pomodoro at the end of the day to use this time for reflection and to review the topics discussed!
After students complete their tasks in a Pomodoro, any remaining time should be devoted to activities such as:
- Reviewing completed classwork/schoolwork;
- Reviewing activities from a learning point of view (ex: What learning objective did you accomplish? What learning outcome did you accomplish? Did you fulfill your learning target, objective, or outcome for the task?);
- Reviewing the list of upcoming tasks for the next planned Pomodoro time blocks and start reflecting on or updating them.
Why are concentration and time management important 21st-century skills?
Concentration and time management are fundamental 21st-century skills that are necessary within schools as they help students improve their cognitive development, prepare them for their future workplace, and allow them to retain information effectively and quickly.
However, cognitive development is a complex topic and over the past few years, many researchers and teachers have been expressing their concern about the impact of modern digitalized schools on concentration and time management amongst students as well as teachers.
The educational system is becoming more digitalized, and although the integration of useful tools like computers, tablets, and smartphones can provide many benefits for your classroom, we mustn’t forget that these resources, if not used accurately can be the main culprit when comes to distraction and procrastination amongst students.
This is why the Pomodoro technique can be used to reduce and limit distractions and increase engagement whilst managing our lesson time effectively.
How can we integrate this technique into our classroom?
Due to digital advancements, today’s generation is more prone to distraction and a short attention span, therefore we must adapt to this 21st-century classroom environment.
We can achieve this by stepping away from the traditional long lessons where students begin to lose concentration very quickly, using the Pomodoro technique to guide and construct student-centered lessons, conducting them in small doses of 25 minutes will boost engagement in the classroom and focus on maintaining each student’s motivation, focus and understanding at the core of each task.
Introducing this organizational habit within your classroom, students will begin to become more productive, stay focused, and re-apply this timed technique in all aspects of their academia whether it be in group work, leadership, or creative activities.
This technique can be applied and adapted to all aspects of teaching, including language learning and even project-based learning, by setting learning objectives and formulating guidelines within each lesson.
The idea behind the technique is that it instills a sense of urgency, almost a fight or flight mode. Rather than feeling you have endless time on your hands to get a task done without much sense or purpose, which is the main cause of procrastination.
The fact that you have 25 minutes before you can take a small reset break, allows your brain to focus as much as possible for a set time without any distractions, using your full cognitive potential because you know that you will be able to take a break as a reward.
This technique trains our brains to use their full potential in small bursts making our work, whether it be the construction of lesson plans, organizing material or simply preparing the classroom, we will become more productive and organize our classroom time more effectively as teachers creating a lesson plan which is student-centered and focused.
If you don’t have a tomato timer laying around, there are many digital tools such as Focus mode by Geekbot, Forest App, and Pomodoro Timer which allow you to introduce this timer in class and outside of class.
The Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique
This technique trains students to focus on tasks better by limiting the length of time they attempt to stay focused. Allowing these small restorative breaks from the effort and concentration, allows students to feel fresh and reset when they need to start their next 25-minute section of work.
This technique is particularly useful for those students who struggle with focus, procrastinate a lot, or tend to multi-task. Using this technique for ADHD may also be extremely helpful because it structures tasks and prevents hyperfocus on a specific task for too long.
Being able to focus without any distractions and having the ability to manage your lesson plan will provide many benefits and useful 21st-century skills for your students such as:
- Gain better work quality;
- Increase higher productivity in the classroom;
- Boosts overall energy levels;
- Enhances student’s ability to pursue goals intensely;
- Improves cognitive flexibility, allowing students and teachers to resist distractions;
- Improves presence at the moment;
- Improves critical thinking;
- Develops self-awareness and reflection.
Although this technique is still in some ways not very well recognized it is truly an excellent technique for any classroom, teacher, student, or individual who wants to manage their time more effectively and concentrate on a specific task at a time.
Within this technique, the stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing are fundamental- all important and effective skills within learning which can be adapted to any sort of learning environment.
Something so simple that originally started out as a tomato timer, has proven to be one of the most optimal methods of time management and concentration, which can benefit many teachers and students in their classroom management.
This new phenomenon of the ‘Pomodoro’ is a surprisingly simple time saver for your classroom, and it might just be the key ingredient you have been missing!