Classroom Management Transition Strategies

Teachers often wonder how to save time in the classroom. This post shares classroom management transition strategies.

Teachers often wonder how to save time in the classroom. With everything that needs to get done, most teachers would agree there are not enough instructional hours in the school day. Since every second counts it is important to not waste any time. This post will explain how classroom management transition strategies can enable teachers to spend more time on task.

How to Save Time in the Classroom

When making schedules teachers don't typically take into account transitions within the classroom room. A schedule may read:

9:00-10:00 Guided Math
10:00-10:15 Word Study
10:15-11:00 Reader's Workshop

The problem is that you don't magically snap your fingers at 10:00 and suddenly go from Guided Math to Word Study. The students may need to pass in their independent spiral review pages, put away math manipulatives, move around the room, distribute materials, and then get started on a spelling practice activity.

Without planning and practice, such transitions can get chaotic and will steal valuable teaching time. You may even find you are needing to manage and document student behaviors because the time off task sets the stage for impulsive behaviors. This is avoidable.

The best way I have found to save time is to set clear expectations and establish routine procedures for transitioning, set class goals and then use a stopwatch to time them.
Teachers often wonder how to save time in the classroom. This post shares classroom management transition strategies.

I use the timer on my cell phone, but anything digital would work just fine.

I don't recommend using this strategy all the time, but when you do it will have a big impact. Here are the steps to follow:
  • Pick one transition at a time to focus on. Perhaps you want them to improve on lining up for lunch. Maybe you are finding you are losing valuable writer's workshop time because the students are taking too long to get their writing supplies and start writing. Whichever transition you select is the one you will stick with for a few days.
  • Without drawing attention to what you are doing, time how long it takes the students to transition. Record the time where they can see it.
  • At a later time (such as during a class meeting) explain the problem and how you are going to work as a team to solve it. If you've been teaching your students about a growth mindset you could tie in the benefits of goal setting to your work in that area. Tell them how long it took them to transition and set an initial goal of beating that time.
  • The next time that transition occurs get their attention and review the procedures. Remind them not to run and to always work as a team. Start the timer and tell them to transition. When they have successfully transitioned from point A to point B I stop the timer and record the time.
  • Discuss how the transition went. Talk about what was done well and address any areas to be improved further. 

In my classroom we kept track of the times and always strived to beat the best time. If they beat their best time, the class would earn a bingo number to add to our Teamwork Bingo Incentive Chart (which works amazingly well by the way). If they didn't beat the time we just focused on how to improve.

Once they showed improvement in a specific transition I would target another using the same process. It consistently helped to decrease behavior issues and helped us to reclaim time on learning.

A few minutes saved here and there really do add up.


Strong classroom management skills are the key to success in the classroom. This BUNDLE includes the tools to make you a more productive, efficient teacher which will increase student learning and decrease your stress level.


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