Has this ever happened to you? You teach a seemingly flawless lesson, students were engaged. You send them off to begin independent skill work only for the room to erupt in chaos! Transitions can be tricky to manage. This post will tackle those tough to manage times during the day:
Keeping students focused on the task at hand, and not distracted into a chaos of chatter can be tricky. Here are a few tips from fellow teachers on how to keep transition times tame.
1- Transition Slideshow
Set up a transition slideshow with timers and built in brain breaks. You can set it up on PowerPoint and then add to Google Slides.’1- Set up a transition slideshow with timers and built in brain breaks. You can set it up on PowerPoint and then add to Google Slides.
Download Center Rotation Board Slides HERE
Use music for transitions! Select songs to cue “get ready to do something” time and “clean up” time.
3- Time Goals
Tell students a random amount of time they have to transition to their next task. For example, say, “You have 1 minute and 12 seconds to be set up for your next station!” This gets students excited and moving to make the time goal. They will also giggle at your random time amounts!
4- Mystery person
Pick a mystery friend and watch as everyone transitions. If the mystery friend stays quiet, everyone gets a Class Dojo (or whatever system you use) point. No one wants to be the reason they don’t get a point, so they’re all quiet. At the end of the month you can set up a Dojo store with little prizes they can “buy” with their class dojo points.
5- Wheel of Names
The three fastest kid’s names go on the list. Spin it at the end of the day/week. The winner gets to choose a small prize.
6- Sound Effects
Use a doorbell, wind chime or some other sound effect that tells students it is time to transition.
First Thing in the Morning
Students come into the classroom ready to learn, but also ready to chat and (sometimes) mess around if given the opportunity. Having a set morning routine can curb this problem time completely!
1- Time to Share
Give students the opportunity to share what’s on their minds every morning. Even if it’s in partners and only a few students share whole group every day, this will help the transition between home and school!
2- Morning Mail
Have kids get their mail in the morning when they first come in instead of at the end of the day. Having that taken care of first thing helps make pack up time more calm and less chaotic. If more papers come in during the day to be sent home, it’s usually no problem to wait until the next morning. Every once in a while there will a be a paper from the office that needs to go home that day, but it rarely happens.
3- Special Song
Play a special song such as the Star Wars theme song every morning to signal the start of morning meeting!
4- Rock Star Ready List
Have a list of “to dos” before morning work starts. A cute idea is to call it “Rock Star Ready” and as kids arrive they get “Rock Star Ready”. Just say ,”Please get Rock Star Ready.” After announcements, do a quick check to make sure all tasks are completed and you’re ready for the day!
Sample Rock Star Ready list:
- Get tablet and power it on
- Put book box on desk
- Fill water bottle
- Make lunch choice
- Put take-home folder away
- Hand in homework/ lunch money/ etc.
- Begin morning work
5- Morning Message
Have a morning message on the board when students come in. Ask questions like, “Would you rather ___ or ___?” or “What was the highlight of your weekend?” etc. Every day write something different. Your students will look forward to it when they come in, plus it gives them either something to share in morning meeting or to write about in their journals.
6- Attendance Board
Take attendance with an attendance board. Kids each have a number magnet and they put it either in cafeteria or lunchbox. This makes it super easy for to do attendance and lunch count each morning.
7- Important Notes Basket
Instead of handing all the things kids come in with directly to the teacher or piling them all over the teacher desk, have a basket they put things in. It’s easy to go through it while kids are doing morning work.
8- Morning Meetings
Set the stage for a great day with morning meetings!
End of the Day & Week
When it is time to go home for the day or week, have set procedures to tie up loose ends can save time and sanity. Teachers in our facebook group use the following strategies:
1- Pack Up Signs
This pack up procedure is amazing! Post “pack up signs” with visuals – like, get your back pack, clean your desk, sanitize the top of your desk, clean the floor, sharpen pencil, etc. Each group has two minutes to complete the task on their sheet. If they finish early, they sit on their desks. Pack up takes 10 minutes and the classroom is spotless every day!
2- Friday Folders
Eliminate having students help pass out papers or have student cubbies. Instead, use Friday folders. On Thursday afternoons before you leave for the day, place any notes or graded papers face down on student desks. When students come in on Friday morning, they take their folders out of their backpacks and put the papers in them to go home. Those missing their folders get a paper clip for their papers and a friendly note to return their folder to school.
If you need labels for Friday folders, grab the ones below from our All Access Membership Site.
3- Play “1, 2 , 3 ,4”
Fold papers into fourths. Students write numbers in each quadrant.
- 1 is always write “something the teacher should know”.
- 2 is write “two friends who were…” (kind, helpful, safe etc).
- 3 and 4 change based on subjects you are learning such as 3 shapes or label a plant with 4 parts.
Hopefully the ideas in this post turn these times from tricky to terrific! If you liked, these posts, check out the rest in our classroom procedures series:
Management of Whole & Small Groups