Create A Parking Lot

Distractions and disruptions can derail your best classroom management plans and de-focus both you and your students. Use the Parking Lot strategy to overcome these frustrating classroom episodes to restore focus and order.
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parking lot

Being interrupted is part of being a teacher. Sometimes we welcome students’ questions and other times we repeat the directions more than we’d like. Interruptions seem to occur throughout the class period, but what can we do when a raised hand means that our lesson is interrupted and we lose instruction time? The answer is create a Parking Lot.

What Is a Parking Lot?

A Parking Lot is a visual display in your classroom (it can be digital or hanging on the wall). Students are encouraged to “park” their questions and write them down on a Post-It note. Once your lesson is over, and students are quietly working, you can visit the Parking Lot to determine your next steps.

How Does It Work?

There are several variations of a Parking Lot. Some teachers design a poster where each student has a rectangle with their name on it. Students’ then write on their Post-It and place it on their parking space. Other teachers hang up a blank poster and ask students to write their name on the back of their Post-It before they “park” their question or comment.

Let’s say you notice that there are several of the same questions on the Parking Lot. You might decide to stop the class, and reteach that part of the lesson before students go back to work. Or, a student might have a question that you can answer by going over to that student and working with them quietly.

Other Uses for the Parking Lot

Parking Lots can also be used for formative assessment and can replace individual Exit Tickets. At the end of class, you can pose a question, and ask all students to write their response. Their “ticket out the door” is to place their Post-It. Once your students have left, you can read the Post Its and think about your plans for the next lesson.

Was most of the class on track? Do you need to reteach? You might consider opening your class the next day by circling back to the Parking Lot from the day before. If you prefer to use digital tools in your classroom, Padlet is a great technology tool for creating a digital Parking Lot. Padlet allows students to post using a digital Post-It Note on a collective space. Some teachers will create a Padlet and have students post on the Parking Lot while they are working on homework and the teacher isn’t there. You are able to respond to students if they need help rather than wait until the next day.

About the author

Julie Mason

English Teacher

About Julie

Julie Mason brings expertise in blended and personalized learning, instructional coaching, and curriculum design. She was a middle and high school English teacher for eight… Read more

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