Most of the behaviour problems associated with transitions and changeovers between activities can be prevented by thinking ahead and explaining exactly what you want your students to do, and the exact steps they need to take during any transition or activity.

On our live courses I use the analogy of a road map. Simply put – you use a map to get where you want to go, so give your students a clear set of directions to enable them to do what you want them to do. By giving these instructions and teaching the behaviour you want to see at the right time – immediately prior to transitions or any activity which is likely to result in disruption – you eliminate confusion (or excuses for confusion) so that students have no justification to mess around, and every chance of behaving appropriately.

If I suddenly introduce a new activity to a class without first clearly explaining my expectations for the next phase of the lesson, I will be met by the usual annoying behaviours from some students such as switching off, calling out, getting out of their seats, quizzing each other and generally messing around.

If they’re not focused and clear about what they must do in a given situation they have an ‘excuse’ to do something else.

If I want them to stop what they’re doing and gather round my desk for a demonstration, for example, I would explain in a step-by-step manner (perhaps with written instructions on the board to reinforce what I’m saying) exactly how they are to pack up, exactly what they should do with their books and equipment, exactly how they should move round the room and exactly where they should stand when they reach my desk

This might seem tedious and overly controlling but some groups do need this level of clear guidance. If done with a warm, firm but friendly tone, the students respond very well and transition problems are reduced dramatically.

Another classroom management strategy you can use to bring any activity to a close is the ‘countdown’. Whenever I need to bring an activity to a close I’ve found it helpful to give the class plenty of warning – particularly if it’s an activity they’re enjoying.

If you put yourself in their shoes for a moment you can see why this makes perfect sense. If you’re having fun, being creative or have just got the hang of something that’s been frustrating you for the last 30 minutes, to be suddenly told you have to stop is a little hard to stomach. For some kids it’s more than they can cope with without complaint.

To prevent mild complaints escalating into more serious arguments I make a habit of giving five, three and one minute warnings before I blow the final whistle – it just cuts out yet another opportunity for them to get annoyed. And that’s just as important in the classroom as it is on the yard or football pitch.

Give them a warning at 5 minutes …

“In five minutes I’m going to ask you all to stop what you’re doing.”

2 minutes …

“In two minutes you’ll be packing away so be finishing off please.”

…30 seconds …

“Just 30 seconds left”

Then start the packing away …

“Okay, it’s time to pack away. Everyone look this way, this is how it’s going to happen: Gerry – books please; Rhiannon – tripod stands; Andy – boiling tubes; Simon – text books. You all need to be sat down with your equipment away in 30 seconds please.”

Then comes the final countdown …

“10… You should all be sat on your own seats now with your bags away and your hands on the table… excellent Carly and Sophie, you got it straight away …

9… Brilliant here on this table let’s have the rest of you doing the same …

8… You need to finish conversations, get that mess away and be sat facing me …

7… All done over there at the back, well done, just waiting for a few others …

6… Come on still some bags out at the back and people talking …

5…

4…

3… We’re just waiting for one group now. Ah, you’ve got it now and you’re sitting perfectly thank you …

2… Well done everyone, nearly there…

1… Superb!”

——————————————–

To get your FREE Classroom Management Mini-Course which will show you how to succeed with your most challenging students click the following link: FREE Classroom Management Mini-course

——————————————–

Related articles: How to use Routines to automate your classroom

Effective Classroom Management Strategies: How to get any class quiet in 5 seconds or less

More classroom management strategies

Please help us by leaving a comment below if you liked this. We are a small company and your comments help us rank in the search engines