Sunday, August 20, 2017

2 ways to create calm transitions in your classroom

When I first started teaching I was so concerned about music content and materials that I didn't really consider transitions or even protocols for activities. The kids behaved so calmly in the halls with their classroom teachers but once they came into my room, they forgot all about that.

I told myself that was OK because I teach music, right?
And music is a noisy subject, right?

But honestly it felt chaotic to me and it kinda wore me out. I didn't realize that having structure, procedures and protocols for behavior in my classroom didn't make me a control freak. It made me a good teacher.

I needed to take charge. After all this was MY room and I wanted to be comfortable in it. When I'd ask the kids to be "good", that wasn't specific enough. So I decided that my music room needed some FORMAL routines for pretty much EVERYTHING.

I created a step-by-step protocol for entering the room and exiting the room.
Posters of the entrance and exit routines were hung in the front of the room for visual cues.

And then we PRACTICED them a few times in each class and not just at the time of the transitions. I made sure that transition looked and sounded like I wanted it to. And if the behavior slipped once in a while, we would review the expectations and do the transition again and get it right.

I also chose CALM activities that came right after entering and right before leaving in order to make the transitions smoother.  For example, you will notice we do "brain hook-up" right after sitting down.

Later on I even added a poster listing the order of the activities in the music class so students could anticipate transitions.

Having the students know the expectations gave them a point of reference. They knew how they were supposed to enter, exit, hand out materials, collect materials, etc. And when they were ready, I assigned leadership roles to students to give them more influence in creating our classroom atmosphere. See my earlier blog on JOBS.

By giving students guidelines to follow, they knew what I wanted them to do and that made a world of difference for me.

Happy Honking! Ellen


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