be an effective manager a teacher must anticipate problems and work to
structure classroom activities so that they run smoothly.
Transitions between activities can be a source of discontent for many
teachers. In order to manage students effectively the teacher
must first know where the lesson is going and how students are to
respond. Left to their own devices students will soon become
disruptive and the classroom environment will become strained. The
following transition strategies really work. They are fun, easy
to use, and can be quickly added to your existing routine.
Create signals to gently remind students when to
transition. Signals send a message to the student when an
activity is coming to a close and that they have 2-3 minutes to finish
what they are working on. Different signals can be designated
for different activities (cleaning up, lining up, putting away
materials, listening for directions, etc.). Be sure to read
Student Focus for additional information. The
following is a short list of transitional signals:
Music from a CD
lights on and off
rhythmic clapping pattern
"Give Me Five" Strategy
whistles, tambourines, etc.
Use a timer to keep students motivated. Designate
a specific amount of time for cleaning up or moving from desks to
centers. You can use a digital kitchen timer, count down from
twenty, or use PowerPoint to create a visual timer. I have
included a PowerPoint timer below. Feel free to download it and
change it any way you like. The timer is set for five minutes.
To add additional minutes to the timer you can add new slides and
change the numbers. Each slide is set to countdown in one-minute
Use fun, upbeat songs to transition between
activities. Children love music and playing music will definitely
get their attention and bring their focus to the task at hand.
Pick several songs that you like and that you feel are fun and
upbeat. Assign each song to a specific task (cleaning up,
getting in line, etc.). Teach students that when they hear the
song they are to stop what they are doing and follow the procedures
associated with the music. This strategy works really
well. Listed below are a few CD's that are popular in elementary
Use fun, rhythmic chants to transition between
It is important to reward students for a job
well done. Reward students for smooth transitions. The
reward can be very simple. Children do not need a lot of extra
Individual Students - students love verbal praise, small pieces of
candy (peppermint, a life savor, etc.), or even being the first
person to line up for an activity.
Groups - groups of students can work together to earn
rewards. Groups can earn points on a tally chart. Once
students have earned a designated number of points (3-5 points)
they earn a special reward. A group reward can be very
simple: verbal praise, popcorn for a snack, sitting with the
teacher at lunch, or putting together a puzzle.
Tips for the Teacher
about how students are to transition between activities.
Never assume they know what you want.
expectations. Teach students how to be successful during
transitions by having them practice and rehearse what your
expectations are for each activity. For example, if you
want students to come to the carpet you must practice how
children will transition from their desk to the carpet and how
they will behave once they get there. If you use a
signal to transition to the carpet be sure to practice the
transition by using the signal.
organized. Set up materials in advance. Always
provide student's with the materials they will need for the
||Monitor the students
during transitions. Scan the room looking for
appropriate behavior. Provide words of encouragement to
students. This will ensure smooth transitions. Say
things like "I love how you stopped what you were working
on and began cleaning up".
||Move around the
room. Visit problem areas and make your presence
known. Redirect inappropriate behavior and bring
student's attention to correct procedures. Model
procedures if necessary.