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How to Handle Classroom Management During Transitions

Adam Waxler

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Every quality lesson has students transitioning from one activity to another, or, as I like to say, from one mini-lesson to another.

Mini-lessons are a great way for teachers to address student attention span and teach their content without the students getting bored. And, if students are not bored, teachers will face less classroom management problems.

However, the transitions from one activity to another can also be the cause of many classroom management problems. If the transitions are unstructured, teachers can guarantee themselves an increase in classroom management issues.

Therefore, the best defense is a good offense – in other words, teachers need to make sure every transition in the classroom is structured.

Here are some simple, but effective classroom management tips for transitioning between mini-lessons… simply follow the steps below:

1. Signal
Teachers must have some type of signal to bring student momentum to a halt. In my experience nothing works better than a simple egg timer. On the very first day of school I teach my students that when that timer “beeps" that is their signal to stop what they are doing and listen for the next set of directions.

2. Be Specific With Directions
The fact is students’ cannot read a teacher's mind. Therefore, the more specific a teacher is with the directions the better it is for everyone.

Let's look at an example where a teacher is transitioning from an activity that involved the students completing a worksheet to an activity that involves reading from the text book. There is a big difference between, “Put the worksheets away and open up your text book to page 323" and “You have 1 minute and 30 seconds to put the worksheets in your folder and open your textbook to page 323 without talking…when the timer beeps stop what you are doing and listen for the next set of directions. "

See the difference?

If you want to take it a step further, it would be a good idea for the teacher to then write the textbook page on the board.

3. Check-for-Understanding
As with any set of directions teachers need to “check" to see if their students actually know what to do. Teachers should simply call on students at random to repeat the directions. “Johnny, what are you going to? Sarah, how much time do you have?" etc.

4. Model
Depending on the complexity of the transition teachers may need to actually model the procedure. For example, if students need to move into new groups then the teacher may want to demonstrate how he expects this to happen. Remember, students’ cannot read the teacher's mind.

However, modeling can also be used for simple tasks such as putting the caps back on the markers and putting the markers away in their proper place in the classroom. Again, if you want it done, you must teach it.

5. “Go!"
After completing the above steps the teacher simply sets the timer and says “Go!"

Having a few different activities within a single lesson is essential to being an effective teacher. However, the transitions can also be the cause of many classroom management problems. By following the above steps teachers can transition from activity to activity without any classroom management problems.

Eliminate classroom management problems forever! Discover the simple strategies in Adam Waxler’s FREE 5-part Classroom Management e-Course @


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