Let’s think about transitions. Common classroom transitions include beginning & ending routines, rotating centers, moving from direct instruction to a cooperative activity, cleaning up supplies, and collecting assignments. Poorly executed transitions can cause even the most structured classroom to fall apart!
Try to think of a transition as three separate parts:
The Exit, the Bridge, and the Entrance.
During the Exit, give an attention signal and allow time (5-7 seconds) for students to mentally and physically disengage from the previous activity before presenting new information. A clear Exit is especially important when transitioning from a preferred activity. Our goal is for all students to hear the directions the first time- rather than reinforce the notion that the teacher will use repeated requests and reminders.
During the Bridge, you will explain the directions and set your expectations. Before expecting students to Enter into the new activity, it’s helpful to give a Starter Signal (word or sound) such as “When I clap three times, you will.,” or, “When I say the word _____, I’d like you to..” If possible, model and post the steps visually while stating them verbally.
Instead of assuming that students will correctly assume or predict how long a transition should take, provide a tool! Timers, songs, and countdowns help students understand time expectations, gauge their pace, and complete the transitions successfully.