4 Tips to Help Manage Transitions in the Classroom

Transitions in a classroom are always a challenge, especially in a primary class.  Some of my first graders are super speedy, and some are like sloths!  I am here to share a few tips to help speed those kids up when you are trying to transition from one activity to another.

4 tips for managing transition times in your classroom

First off, consider these simple steps BEFORE you transition: 

  1. Get their attention: use a consistent signal to tell them it is time to stop before you transition - a call and response like hands on top, that means stop. 
  2. Once you have their attention tell them precisely what to do.  You can't assume everyone will know.
  3. Start your transition.  

Keep on reading for ways to manage your transitions to avoid the chaos!

1.  Music! 

Every major transition in my day happens with music.  When we clean up from morning tubs, math and literacy centers or free time, it is always with music.  I use the same song because the kids get used to how long they have to tidy up.

My favourite song is by Mr. Steve and Miss Katie, which is available as a download on iTunes.  I have a Bluetooth speaker in my classroom and pair my phone and play the song that way.

I have embedded this video into my substitute teacher's smartboard file so that it can still be accessed even when I am away.  

My students know that everyone keeps cleaning up until everything is finished.  If you complete your tidying before the song ends, you find a friend to help out.  Teamwork!  

2.  Shout Outs! 

At any time in the day when we are tidying up, I like to continually shout out the kids that are doing precisely what they are supposed to be doing rather than calling attention to the behavior I don't want to reinforce

As soon as the child hears the praise, they light up, and the kids around them take notice and get back to the task of cleaning up and moving on to the next thing.  It works, it works really well!

I do the same thing with table groups,  I notice which table groups are on task and tidying up and make sure to mention it.

I occasionally give stickers to the students or table groups I shout out, but I do it very sporadically because I don't want to make it about earning a prize, but instead about following directions quickly.

3. The Quiet Game

Sometimes you just need them to stop talking and do what is asked.  Occasionally, if we are having a tough day, I will tell them just before we transition that we are playing the quiet game while tidying up to cut down on the social time and focus on the task of cleaning up and moving on. 

This is a staple when we are dressing for recess. Some of my kids would spend the entire time dressing and socializing and NEVER get out for recess.

4. Whole-Class Incentives

Behavior bingo is a tool to help manage your transition times while rewarding teamwork.

Bingo!  Everyone loves Bingo. 

Another way I encourage speedy transitions is to offer a bingo number if we beat the music during our big transitions or if we beat the bell at recess.  The key is that EVERYONE has to beat the music or bell.  I find this definitely encourages teamwork.

If you are interested in checking out the resource, click on the picture above or Behavior Bingo - A Whole Class Management System.

Do you have any tips for speedy transitions?  I would love to hear them.  Add a comment below or send me an email at christina@hangingaroundinprimary.com.

How would you like some ideas for ways to use that time that you get back with efficient transitions?  Check out this post that shares 5 ways to fill up 5 minutes.

Take a moment and pin this post! 

Manage transitions in your classroom with 4 simple tips that you can implement tomorrow

Until next time,