Transitions are at the heart of classroom management. In the beginning of the school year, it’s important to teach each procedure you will need throughout the day to help the children move smoothly. Here are some strategies to get you started:
1. Use a quiet signal.
You must have a way to quickly get the children’s attention. Use a pleasant sound, like a chime, or flick the lights. These are preferable to hand signals since the children can respond without looking up. If children aren’t responding immediately, practice again and again. Use the Responsive Classroom’s method for interactive modeling to teach your quiet signal.
2. Teach Each Transition Until It Is Routine.
Plan which transitions you will teach the first day such as arrival and dismissal, going to the bathroom, or lining up. Next make a list of the procedures and transitions you will teach the first week such as Morning Announcements, moving from tables to carpet, or sitting at circle time. Finally, make a list of the procedures you’ll want to teach the rest of the first month such as sharing materials, putting things away properly in your desk, and moving to learning centers.
- Choreograph your Classroom:
- Tight Transitions
- Teaching Transition
- First Day of School: Teaching Procedure for getting into groups – upper elem.
- Going to the Bathroom (K)
Teach your transitions in a fun, light-hearted way. Be firm about children doing the transitions quickly and correctly, but don’t complain, yell, or chastise the children. If they don’t get it right, do it again throughout the day to practice. Give LOTS of positive feedback to the children who are behaving appropriately.
4. Plan enough time.
Don’t rush through transitions, especially in the beginning of the year. Plan a lot of extra time for lining up, getting into circle, moving to desks. You don’t want to get stressed or make transitions into an anxiety-ridden time of day. Give plenty of warnings before starting a transition. Some children will need more than one.
5. Use songs.
Music is a powerful way to help us remember what behaviors we should use. Think about how songs are used at church or sports games to signal various behaviors. Use a welcome song, a clean up song, a lining up song, a move to the carpet chant, and goodbye song. Children are never too old for transition songs – just use developmentally appropriate music.
6. Use imagination.
Get out your magic wand to create quiet mice who walk down the hallway. Pretend to be a big crane picking up materials at clean up time. Sprinkle pixie dust over the children to help them move quickly to their seats without talking. Have fun, but be firm about expecting correct behavior.
7. Use visual cues
Mark the floor where children line up. Put a card with their name on it where you want children to sit at circle time. Give the children a photo of what it looks like when their coat is hung up properly or their books put away in their desk correctly.
8. Use a countdown
In order to get the children to transition quickly and reduce wasted time, count down the transition for them. Start with 10 and remind them what they should be doing. “We are moving to the carpet in 10, 9, 8, I see children sitting crossed legged ready to go, 7, 6, 5, we have almost everyone here, 4, 3, 2, 1. You all moved very quickly and quietly to your spots so we can getting going right away with our story.”
9. Move children gradually
Avoid chaos and bottlenecks by moving children in smaller groups from one area to another. Keep the pace brisk as you call each group and be sure to practice the procedure for each transition.
10. Actively Supervise
Have all your materials ready so that during transitions you are not looking for books, hand outs, etc. Be completely available to the children during transitions, especially in the first couple months of school.
- Need more ideas for getting ready for good classroom management? Check out the Positive Classroom Method ebook today!