- Students arrive in class from home. The drive/walk/ride to school is part of this transition.
- Students have to end one activity (complete the task and put the material away), and then prepare for the next (get the new set materials on their desk and be ready mentally for a switch in subject).
- For certain periods they have to move to a different physical area (classroom to playground or music room).
- In most cases there is also a change in teaching staff, as the period changes the next subject teacher enters the class. The student has to adjust to the change in teaching style and personality.
- On some days the students have to deal with the changes when a substitute teacher takes over the class.
- Within the same period, the students have to move from one activity to the next.
For the most part, how a student transitions is dependent on the teacher’s classroom management skills.
- Does the teacher go over the routine for the day or for the period? Supposing the lesson is two fold—observation of the seedlings in the classroom garden and drawing a picture of the plant. Does the teacher inform the class that they are going to do these two activities?
- When there are such transitions from one physical area of
the school to another, does the teacher divide the class into manageable
groups? Crowd control is an important part of successful transitions. Group dynamics (understanding who gets along with whom) plays a big role in a well run classroom.
- Does the teacher give advance warning to the students before an activity ends? “You have two more minutes to finish coloring…”
- Is there a long waiting period between the end of one activity and the beginning of the next? Children left hanging around for a long period will start talking, acting goofy, teasing…
- If some children have to wait while the others catch up, are they engaged in a suitable activity—like a language game?
- Does the teacher follow up with a signal or a cue for when the actual change occurs? Some teachers like to flash the light on and off, others have songs and in one school, the entire primary grade followed a clapping pattern…from Pre K. These kids learned the signal from age 4. By the time they left primary school, they had very little difficulty shifting their attention to the next activity.
- Most important, does the teacher have a list of ‘things to do’ in case of emergencies, especially if the class gets too boisterous or wound up?