This is my 18th year teaching. Wow, that makes me sound old! (Notice I said that makes me sound old… not that I am old… 😉 ) Anyway, in all those years I have had just about every “kind of class” you can imagine. I have taught pre-k, kindergarten, first grade, second grade and ESE. I have taught in Title I schools, inner city schools, a professional development school on a university campus and a small private school. I have found that in all of these different environments there is one thing that always, always, always makes thing run smoothly and keeps me (somewhat) sane… when we have smooth, easy transitions.
Today I am here to tell you what I always tell my interns… nothing will transform your classroom more than effective, easy transitions. Nothing. (I know that is a very bold statement… but I am standing behind it!)
So, I stumbled upon this little piece of “teacher gold” that I wanted to share with you. It happened, like all of my best teaching moments,
when I was totally frustrated and the first ten things I tried didn’t work when I carefully reflected on what my students needed to be successful. It has seriously changed my classroom. Like, a lot. At first I felt like I didn’t even recognize my wild children sweet students. And the best part? It is still working (better than ever) 4 weeks later.
Are you ready for this amazing strategy? I hope you are able to visualize it because it is very complicated. Here we go… When you are getting ready to move from one area to another, to line up, to pack for dismissal etc. you very dramatically wave a
random pointer magic wand over your students and call out “Abbra Cadabra! I’m looking for Transition Magicians!”. I told you it was complicated. 😉
Now, there is a teeny-tiny bit more to it.
Before pulling out your “magic wand” you need to talk to the kids about what a transition is and how the “magic” works. My little lesson went something like this:
Boys and girls I need to talk to you about something very important. (As always I made sure to make a very dramatic production of the whole thing.) I’ve been thinking about how you are the sweetest, smartest class at our school… and I’ve realized that you are SO grown up and awesome that it is time for us to add something special to our class… I think it’s time for… a little MAGIC! (Wait for the cheers, oohs, ahhh and general roar of excitement to quiet down.)
I know, I know… it is very exciting! But here’s the thing… the magic only works if we are VERY grown up. And here’s the BEST part… YOU get to be the magicians! (Again, pause for ridiculousness and the general, happy sounds of childhood.)
Okay, are you ready? Sit up straight and tall and show me how grown up you are. There is a very fancy, grown up word I want to teach you. The word is TRANSITION.
I am going to write another blog post soon about my love of words and vocabulary and how I am constantly teaching my little students “fancy words”. I clear my throat, say the word and they repeat it in their “college voice” (because they are going to sound so grown up their parents will think they went to college instead of kindergarten today… obviously 😉 ) So we practice our big word here.
A TRANSITION is when we change from one activity to another. Sometimes we have BIG transitions like finishing centers and lining up to go outside. Other times we have tiny transitions like when I finish reading a story and you turn and talk to a partner about it.
Today, I am going to teach you how to become a TRANSITION MAGICIAN! Here is how it works… When we get to a transition you think of the magic word and QUICK AS MAGIC you show me you are a transition magician by being ready for the next activity.
So, when I stop talking in just a minute… you are going to think “ABBRA CADABRA” in your head… and then you will show me your quiet criss cross, fold your hands and be ready for the next activity. I can’t wait this is so exciting… Are you ready? Okay, time to be a TRANSITION MAGICIAN!
I turned around for a split second so that I could turn around and be shocked, amazed and thrilled at their magic.
Here is the last, most important part… you need to jump up and down & clap your hands and be unbelievably excited that they are REAL MAGICIANS.
Seriously. AND it works.
The only other trick is sometimes reminding them that you are about to “look for transition magicians” or that you will be watching as they clean up their centers and come to the carpet to see “whose magic is working today”. And when things get cray-cray… because… they are little and they outnumber me… I simply call out, “Jaxson! You are being a transition magician!!” and suddenly I have a dozen more magicians following suite.
It is SO easy that I feel kind of silly writing up a blog post about it. BUT… it is SO effective that I had to share it with you… In case your classroom could use a little magic! 😉
I have a cute little poster that I hung on my board and I make a big deal of turning and looking at before transitions sometimes. It is a great reminder. You can download a copy below.
Do you have any transition secrets? I am always looking for some “magic tricks” to add to my repertoire… Please share your ideas in the comments!
Add a little magic to your classroom!