I hope you are well. Today, I would like to speak about transitions. Transitions are often a forgotten part of lesson planning and a source of much wasted time. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. Transitions can be just as productive and educational as planned learning time.
Yes, you do a great job of planning lessons for all your classes? The activities are helpful and students are productive. Yet, transitions are chaotic, noisy, and wasted time. You aren’t sure why. I can tell you! You haven’t planned or taught a procedure for a smooth, educational, or productive transition.
Transitions need to be treated just like an actual class. Learning time is being wasted, if you don’t. Yes. I know, you do enough planning with the classes and the students need down time anyway. I agree. However, they don’t have to be a free for all and chaotic time. Transitions need planning and procedures just like regular classes.
They don’t need to be elaborate. Transition procedures can be as simple as clean up your space, put away your things, get ready for the next activity, jump up and down in place ten times, sit back down quietly, and whisper with your partner. Transitions can involve reciting the alphabet or multiplication facts (depending on age) as students are cleaning their space. You could put on some instrumental music and let students talk quietly until they hear the music stop.
Another strategy I have used during transitions before is to say something like, “I want you to clean your area, put away your things, and line up before I count down from 20. It must be quiet until you have things picked up. If you finish before I do, you can either jump up and down in line or talk quietly with a friend next to you in line. Ready, 20, 19, 18… make sure you push in your chair… 17, 16, 15, it should be quiet still, 14, 13, 12… don’t forget to check under your desk and chair, 11, 10, 9… you are talking quietly with a friend or jumping up and down in line in a safe space if you are done, 8, 7, 6, we should be almost ready, 5, 4, 3… get in line… 2, 1, 0. We should be in line, quiet, and ready to go. And, we are. Thank you.”
Transitions may be different for each class and each subject. The important thing is to have a planned procedure with clear expectations for transitions. Teach the procedures to students from the very beginning and make rules and participation count for those as well.
As you are planning for transitions, you may want to have a “quiet” transition procedure and a “not so quiet” transition. That way, if something comes up and students need to be very quiet or you are busy and can’t count backwards or participate in the procedure, students still know what to do and what is expected. Also, if the lesson involves a “not so quiet” activity, you may want to have a “quiet” transition or vice versa. Just remember, that students do need both “quiet” time and “not so quiet” time. They can’t be expected to be quiet for the entire school day.
So, it may take a little extra planning, but you will find that it will be well worth it. Your transitions will be smoother and more productive if they are well planned out and taught with high expectations.
What are your transition plans, rules, and routines? I would like to see and learn from you. Thank you.
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