How to Make Smooth Classroom Transitions

By Huntington Learning Center

One challenge all teachers face is managing transitions from one activity to the next. That downtime can turn into class chatter and throw you completely off course. What can you do? Here are a few ideas for making those transitions smoother:


  • Establish a “stop talking” cue. This might be ringing a bell or calling out a chant. Teach your students what this means early in the year so that they understand that your expectation when it happens is for everyone to be quiet and listen.
  • Give time reminders. Abrupt changes are difficult for many students. Give five- and ten-minute warnings before you ask students to clean up or switch to something new.
  • Have a plan for the early finishers. Students work at different paces. Let students know what they should do if they finish a task before others. This will help avoid such students getting fidgety and disturbing their peers.
  • Develop routines. If you’ve been teaching for a while, you probably have routines well established. Take a good look at your day, though. Are there times where students are more disruptive or talkative than others? Consider giving a refresher on your expectations or trying a new routine.
  • Use transitions as quick brain breaks. Sometimes, no matter how well you plan a transition, your students might need a breather. Use it as a chance to move around, do some jumping jacks, or take a quick walk up and down the hall. Hitting pause for a moment will do your students good.


Managing transitions well is an important classroom management technique. It’s all about setting expectations and holding students to them. Do that, and you’ll notice that your classroom runs more effectively and your students remain engaged.