Time Management

I have had many new instructors ask me over the years, what is the hardest part of teaching a CPR class. My answer always is time management. Face it we all have stories we want to share, myself included. I have been an EMT for several years, and have seen some pretty interesting cases that make for great stories.

Every class you teach, you will have different personalities, some students may need a little extra instruction, or you may be faced with the class clown that will have a comment after everything you say. Whatever the reason, father time has always been my most challenging aspect of teaching my classes. But don’t let that scare you, think of it as an adventure where you get to let your creative juices flow in keeping everyone focused and helping those who may need a little encouragement or help with skills.

Location Of Your Venue

Classroom time management actually starts before the day of your class. Take the time to locate your venue location before the day of your class. Don’t just look up the address on google maps if you are not sure of the location and call it a wrap. Actually, drive to the location and locate the building your class will be held in. Sometimes the building may be hidden amongst other buildings and may be difficult to locate. The day of your class, leave yourself plenty of time for travel and an early morning beverage at your favorite cafe.

Setting Up Your Classroom

Give yourself plenty of time to set up your classroom, and to do a double check to make sure everything is working properly (AED’s, computer, video, manikins etc.) Know where the closest emergency exits, restrooms, and vending machines are located. Not being rushed to set up your classroom will help you get into your teaching grove knowing you have not missed anything.

Introduction Story

This story will set the tone for the class and is meant to get your students pumped and in the mindset of learning CPR skills. Your story can be of an event that you or someone you know experienced, or maybe it was an article you read that struck a cord. Whatever the story keep it interesting but short, no more than 5 minutes.

Class Expectations

Setting class expectations is crucial before you begin your class. Tell your students that class can be fun, but everyone needs to do their part to stay focused. Here are some key points I touch on before every class.

  • We all love a good story, but please save your stories and comments for break time
  • There is no such thing as a silly question, chances are if you ask it, there may be another student who has the same question.
  • Please raise your hand if you have a question or if you are not clear on a skill as I will be happy to answer questions or demonstrate the skill again for you.
  • This is a participatory class, and that I will be asking questions of you, as well as for you to read out loud for the class from your course handouts. (This will help save your voice, as well as keep your students engaged)
  • Location of restrooms, emergency exits, and vending machines


It is always important to give your students a chance to ask any questions that they may have before moving on to the next topic. Some students may be shy and unless prompted may not ask any questions, so give them every opportunity to ask those questions.

Let The Fun Begin

Whether you are teaching the American Red Cross, American Heart Association or a Divers Alert Network CPR course, every course has their own curriculum timeline on how much time you should be spending on each skill. The important thing to remember is to be able to be flexible with those timelines.


Rescue breaths may call for 15 minutes for that skill, but your students nailed the skill in 10 minutes. As long as you feel that all your students performed the skill properly to standards, you can move on to the next skill. There may be another skill that your students may need that 5 minutes that was not needed during the rescue breaths skill. This is an efficient way of using your time so they get the extra time they need to practice, but you are not actually taking extra time out of the overall course time. You are simply being flexible with the skill timeline. (Never move on to a new skill until the students are able to perform the skill you are working on to standards)


I like to give a couple 10-minute breaks as well a 30-minute lunch break throughout the day. The 10-minute breaks depend on your class. Some classes like to barrel through the skills without a break while some classes like to take all of their breaks. We recommend asking if anyone needs a 10-minute break 1 hour after the class begins. Ask if anyone would like a 10-minute break 1 hour after lunch. This will give people a chance to feed meters, get a beverage, use the restrooms, or just get a breath of fresh air. I recommend taking a 30-minute lunch break right before the AED section of the class. This is a great stopping point as they have all the basic CPR skills under their belt before introducing how to use the AED.

Don’t Get Discouraged If Your Class Runs Over

I strive to have my CPR/AED classes run no more than 5 hours. Don’t be disappointed if from time to time your class runs over because It will happen. There may be a student who struggled to grasp a skill, or maybe despite your heroic efforts, that class clown just could not contain themselves. Whatever the reason, at the end of the day you will have certified a classroom full of people on how to save lives, and that in itself is an amazing feeling, and a day well spent.

Time management takes practice, and the more you teach, the more you will know your material forward and backward, and your class will run more smoothly. You will also develop your own teaching style and be able to diffuse any class disruptions that may occur during your class.

Get your teaching grove on and go have some fun!!