Moving children from one activity to the next can be one of the most challenging aspects of teaching.
Children of all ages are generally unaware of the procedures and skills that they must learn and demonstrate in order to benefit the learning process. Smooth and well-rehearsed classroom procedures are very important because it helps both the teacher and students to make their classroom learning environment more efficient, productive, and positive.
Smooth classroom transitions can save time for the entire class, allowing the saved time to be utilized for the betterment of the instructional process. Thus, teachers should teach and explicitly demonstrate basic transition skills to their students so that the classroom activities are not disturbed when students transition from one activity to the next.
Let’s discuss this concept and its importance.
What Are Classroom Transitions?
Within every classroom, a number of activities take place on a daily basis. Classroom transitions are the periods of time when, under teacher direction, students move as a group. Transitions include all of those times when teachers ask students to form groups within the class, as well as the short amount of time that is required by the students to end one activity and prepare for the beginning of another. All the time spent in between two activities is often unproductive. Establishing and teaching transition routines that your students can learn and execute quickly and repeatedly with minimal direction by you as their teacher, is very important.
The Need for Efficient Transitions
“Transitions themselves are not the issue, but how well you respond to their challenges!”~ Jim George
Transitions in teaching are important because student learning depends upon them. Efficient transitions increase time for learning.
Transitions from one activity to another are times when children are more likely to engage in challenging behaviour. These transition times can also be very time consuming if they have not been properly taught and planned in advance. Without such planning, the entire learning atmosphere and concentration of the class can be interrupted.
On the other hand, transitions that are executed smoothly can actually be fun, efficient, orderly, and time saving; but achieving a calm atmosphere in your classroom during a transition is a feat in itself.
Good behaviour and learning go hand in hand. Do not assume that students know (or should know) how to transition appropriately. A well-directed and practiced transition can minimise the amount of instructional time that is wasted while minimising potential behaviour issues and interruptions in the learning process. Well rehearsed and planned classroom transitions help to maximise instructional time and assist students to move quickly and efficiently from one activity to another.
Hence, a smooth transition is vital to obtain an optimal learning environment where activities are conducted in a continuous flow, one after the other.
Consistency – The Backbone behind Smooth Transitions
Almost every classroom procedure begins and ends with a transition, no matter how small it may be. Everyday classroom transitions are many and varied and can include entering and leaving the classroom, moving from one learning space to another or cleaning and packing equipment.
However, the important thing to remember about transitions is that they need to be followed in a preset manner, making them consistent on a daily basis, or in accordance with particular activities.
Unfortunately, consistency cannot be achieved without proper training and development. To attain smoother, quicker and more efficient transitions within your classroom, it is vital to teach your students the appropriate process to end one activity before initiating the next one.
In addition, the same transition process should be used on a regular basis, this will help in developing a habit within the students; for instance, the next time you pack up equipment in your class, your students will be well aware of the procedure to follow.
Instructional strategies used to teach transition skills to students include; preparing the students in advance, talking to them about the change that is about to occur, and providing them with a consistent routine ensuring that every transition they make, is smooth and free from disruption.
Expecting good behaviour and modelling clear examples of what that means, is the quickest way to gain the upper hand on transition time management. With smooth transitions in place, the day will be less stressful for both teacher and students.
If you are wondering about how to achieve smooth transitions in your classroom, stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog where we will discuss practical tips and strategies for smooth and efficient transitions.