Moving between classroom activities and classrooms themselves can be a sticking point for many teachers and students to contend with. The key is to have a clear plan in place and the set up in place to be able to efficiently carry out that plan. Here I look at some ways to make both the physical transition between classrooms and the transition between learning activities as smooth as possible.
There are really 3 types of main transitions: getting to a new class and entering a class, switching between learning activities and exiting a class. Bad transitions between any of these cost time, if you can save 15 minutes a day, through changing your transition routines, that equates to an additional 45 hours of actual teaching time per year – a healthy amount you must agree!
Lets look at the physical transitions first. I once watched in horror as 30 8th graders all pushed and shoved as they tried to enter a classroom holding bags and sporting equipment. It wasn’t pretty, the doors were tiny and there was no order to who entered first. While a large part of this can be solved with correct supervision, or making a rule of single file entering and exiting of classrooms, another good idea which is being incorporated into many modern school designs is the use of large sliding or folding doors instead of traditional entrance doors. This gives the potential to open the doors right up to allow all students to smoothly enter the room. Companies such as Brio, make a huge range of stunning door hardware for use when installing sliding doors. They all use top notch stainless steel to provide years of smooth operation, even with the heavy use they will get in schools.
If students are taking too long and dragging their feet, it can be a good idea to count down how many seconds are left until the next event will start. I personally use a stopwatch and get my students to try and beat the clock – word of advice – counting down the last 5 seconds in an assertive voice never fails to speed things up!
If students are enjoying what they are doing and absorbed I the task at hand, it can be tricky to get them to stop and move on with a new task. How often have you seen a torrent of emotions bubble over when you announce that an activity is to stop. The key is to foreworn students that a task will soon finish, rather than simply announcing it. It can be a good idea also to have a large timer displayed at the front of the class, counting down how much time is left on the activity.