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8 Ways to Speed Up Classroom Transitions

Have Materials Ready
Line up all of your lesson materials on an open table for easy access.  We start our math lesson off with a fact fluency song every morning, so I use this time to get materials out.  2-3 minutes is typically all it takes for me to grab the necessary boxes and line them all up.

I also have a stack of large bowls in my room that I can fill up with anything to enable everyone to reach the materials.  If we are using pattern blocks, I can place 6 bowls of blocks out rather than asking everyone to grab 1 red trapezoid, 2 yellow hexagons, etc. 

Split Up Boys & Girls
Have your boys go put their paper in their mailbox, while the girls put their clipboards away.  Then switch.  This automatically cuts traffic in half and speeds the process up.  The same rule applies when working with partners.  Have partner 1 go get dry erase materials for both people, while partner 2 gets the necessary papers & supplies.

Use Music
Websites such as Flocabulary, YouTube, Amazon Music, etc. are the perfect way to get your class up and moving.  I choose a song that is the appropriate length (or start it in the middle) and tell the kiddos they have until the end of the song to be cleaned up and sitting at their seat.  Content based songs are the best because they sing along and don’t even realize they are learning.  So often, I feel like they aren’t hurrying, when in reality it has only been 20 seconds since I gave them a direction.  The songs help me know just how long it has been and show the kiddos a little grace. 

Have Students Turn Work Into A Specific Location
9 times out of 10 students don’t need to place their work directly into your hands.  Have them place work in a designated bin or file so that you have 30 seconds to get ready for the next lesson.

Ok, so they aren’t buying anything, but I have started telling my students to get one paper for themselves and one for a friend.  This enables me to have half as many kids standing in line for a paper and the fast kiddos can help out the slow kiddos without anyone realizing what’s going on.

Keep It Short And Sweet
Stop giving your kiddos so many directions!  Keep it short!  Within the first few days, my kiddos know the phrase “Paper, pencil, clipboard, carpet”  That’s all I have to say for them to get their materials and take a seat on our carpet.  Less talking for you isn’t a bad thing.  Short, one word, directions are easy to remember. 

Repeat After Me
My teammate is the one that got me started with classroom chants.  She has always made her kindergartners and now first graders repeat after her.  She gives a one word direction and they repeat it three times as they are doing it so that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing and they aren’t having a conversation with their friend.  If she says “line up” they say “line up, line up, line up” as they are doing it.  It may seem a little robotic, but those first few weeks are rough and procedures must be understood as quickly as possible to have a productive year. 


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