Classroom Management Tips: Transition Time

​Transitions: No matter if you have a class all day, or just for one hour during the weekend, you still need to think about how to move smoothly from one activity to the next or from place to place. 

Transitions are among the most troublesome times of the day. When everyone starts moving around its easy to play around, fight…voices get loud and the kids feel free to do whatever they like… to start the next activity you need to regain control…

All this leads to the possibility of bad behavior AND wasting precious learning time. It might be hard to settle the students down after a transition. 

And if you dont speak Chinese, this is even harder to have them listen to you when they feel like it’s not “instruction” time. 

Transitions happen when:

  • Leaving the classroom (for lunch, recess, etc)
  • Moving from one part of the classroom to another
  • Rearranging desks for group work 
  • Taking a bathroom/water break
  • Cleaning Up
  • Lining Up
  • Saying Goodbye
  • End of the Day

With older students, you probably dont need to micromanage each transition but you may notice when entering the classroom and finding seats, moving desks, or exiting the class, there is a lot of time wasted. Take some time to observe between tasks and see what problems you can solve with these steps:

  1. Secure students’ attention: “Focus on me, please.”
  2. Explain and model the procedure: “In a moment, you will return to your desks and take out your history textbooks. Like this.” Don’t give too many things for them to do at once. Some students may benefit from a visual aid, a poster on the wall, or a list on the whiteboard. 
  3. Prepare kids for the signal to start: “When I say ‘smooth,’ you’ll quietly proceed.”
  4. Initiate the transition: “And… smooth.”Don’t say “go,” because that word cues students to race.
  5. Observe: Watch to make sure all students are complying. Gently remind those who are not.

Remember to use visual pictures AND words for ESL learners!

I also recommend if all the students can’t complete the task, stop, and try again until each student is able to do it. This means you spend a lot of time once and show students how important it is to complete these small tasks. 

For example, in our school we have a small set of stairs. It’s very important for students to walk quietly and quickly and safely up the stairs. So we model first how to do it, then we taught them a little song “Follow me!” so they will stay focused. We sing in a quiet whisper. Sometimes when going home, they feel excited and will want to run or be noisy. We stop. Turn around and go back upstairs and try again. Until everyone can complete the task like we want. Now, 99% of the time the children go up and down stairs without reminders. 

Or maybe I should buy this instead!

Young Kids:

One great way to transition is to use songs. It’s helpful to help them remember the language and it’s fun and keeps them interested in what’s going on.

Check these great websites for more articles & resources: (Video, No VPN needed)

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What transitions do you struggle with? What strategies do you use? Let us know in the comments section below!

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