For example: The students are doing math activities that are very engaging. Abruptly, the teacher stands and says, "Put the math materials away and take out your writing folder."
The teacher has just interrupted the students' learning. What was happening in the math activity may have been a pivotal point in understanding a concept for a student. They have been jerked out of one activity and then thrust into another one.
Here is another example of a jerk and thrust transition that I am guilty of doing, more than once:
The students are really focused and engaged in a writing assignment. I look up and notice it is time for gym. I say, "Quick, put your pencils down and get in line for gym."
Some teachers give a "warning" that the next activity will happen in a few minutes. The word "warning" carries a negative meaning, something bad is about to happen. I prefer using the word "notice". It sounds less threatening, e.g. "This is a 5 minute notice until gym."
Setting a timer is an easy and inexpensive way to not only help the teacher to stay on time but it also helps the students stay focused. Using a timer guarantees that the class will be at specialist on time or will transition at the right time. I also set it to remind me to pick the students up from specialist on time.
Students can have the responsibility of the timer. Have one student set the timer for the length of the activity, lesson, or whatever. Set it 5 minutes before the transition, so students will know how much time they have to clean up and prepare for the next activity. You will be amazed at how smoothly transitions occur.
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