The Secret to Saving Time in Your Schedule With Classroom Transitions


Wondering how to create smooth classroom transitions from one activity to another? Here's a breakdown of not only what classroom transitions are, but also how to do them effectively. In this video I share my secret to getting my class to transition from one activity to another without me saying a thing. This strategy to smooth classroom transitions will help you confidently minimize disruptive behavior, save time in the classroom, and be confident in your classroom management skills.

According to Cornell University’s Lab, on average people take nine and a half minutes to get back into productive workflow after switching tasks. It’s no secret that teachers are struggling to fit all of the curriculum and activities into a typical school day. But how much time are we losing in the school day because of classroom transitions?

Well, let’s say in your classroom you switch to 10 different activities, lessons, or assignments a day on average. Using the statistic Cornell University found, that would mean teachers are losing on average around 100 minutes each day each time they switch to a different activity.

Three years ago, I had to step out to the office to speak to admin. A special education teacher was watching my class. Students were doing centers. Students did 3 transitions and went to whole group reading before I got back. The special education teacher was blown away that my students did all of that without her saying a thing. You might be wondering, “what’s the secret? How do you get your students to transition without you being there?” Today we are diving into how to get time back in your schedule by cutting down the amount of time you spend transitioning from one thing to another. So let’s dive in.

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What are Classroom Transitions?

Before we dive, let’s get clear on what classroom transitions are. Classroom transitions are whenever a student moves from one activity or subject to another. Examples of these could be whole group math to independently working on a math assignment, or silent reading to lining up for lunch. All of these are classroom transitions, and the biggest issue is that these transitions take TIME. As teachers, we have a short amount of time. So, how do you get your students to transition from one activity to another in under 30 seconds? We are going to dive into that next.

What Makes Good Classroom Transitions?

Now that we know what classroom transitions are, let’s talk about what makes a good classroom transition.

  1. Procedures: Having clear and consistent procedures in place for transitions is crucial. Students should know exactly what is expected of them during transitions, such as how to gather materials, where to go, and how to transition quietly and efficiently.
  2. Music: Using music as a transition tool can be highly effective. Choose upbeat and engaging music to signal the start or end of an activity, and train students to transition quickly and quietly while the music plays.
  3. Practice: Like any other skill, transitioning smoothly takes practice. Take time to explicitly teach and practice transition procedures with your students until they become second nature.

How to Have Good Transitions in Your Classroom:

Now that we understand the importance of smooth transitions and what makes them effective, let’s explore some practical strategies for implementing them in your classroom.

  1. Establish Clear Expectations: Before beginning any activity, clearly communicate your expectations for how students should transition between tasks. This includes how to gather materials, where to sit or stand, and how to transition quietly and efficiently.
  2. Use Visual Cues: Visual cues, such as timers or countdowns, can help students understand how much time they have to complete a task or transition to the next activity. Displaying visual cues prominently in the classroom can help students stay on track and manage their time effectively.
  3. Provide Positive Reinforcement: Reinforce positive behavior during transitions by praising students who transition quickly and quietly. Positive reinforcement can motivate students to continue demonstrating desired behaviors during transitions.
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice: Like any other classroom procedure, transitioning smoothly takes practice. Set aside time during the school day to practice transition procedures with your students, and provide feedback and reinforcement as needed.

Wrap Up:

Effective classroom transitions are essential for maximizing instructional time and maintaining a positive learning environment. By establishing clear expectations, using strategies such as music and visual cues, and providing opportunities for practice, teachers can minimize downtime and maximize learning opportunities for their students. Remember, smooth transitions require consistency, patience, and practice, but the time saved in your schedule will be well worth the effort.

Here are some next steps for your classroom management journey:

As always remember:


Helena <3


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