With the implementation of Common Core standards and performance-based pay, teachers are under more pressure to perform than ever. Every minute must be devoted to instruction, causing teachers to cut any activity not directly aligned to standards.
This intense pressure starts at the beginning of the year, a vital time to set expectations and establish procedures and routines, or tight transitions. The costliest mistake teachers make is to introduce academics too early without laying the foundation for tight transitions. Many think they are saving time or getting a jump-start on the year; but in reality, this is costing them their most valuable resource—time. Sounds contradictory doesn’t it? Time wasted in poor transitions equates to a great loss of instructional time. It’s the difference between finishing a lesson effectively and running out of time without recapping or closing the lesson, a critical component of effective lessons. Furthermore, messy transitions often invite misbehavior and other disruptions that require teacher redirection, a loss of time. Tightening transitions saves up to 10 minutes daily, which equates to hours of instructional time throughout the year.
It took me years to perfect the art of teaching tight transitions. At first, I couldn’t understand how students didn’t know how to line up—it’s such a simple concept. Why couldn’t they quietly put their materials away or quickly meet at the carpet? After a great deal of professional reading and help from fellow teachers, I realized that I need to explicitly model and teach these transitions starting from day one.
I’ve created the Back to School Teacher Toolbox: Routines, Procedures and Transitions to help all teachers with the critical process. This Toolbox contains engaging, colorful resources and activities that explain how to teach, model, practice, and reinforce important systems and routines throughout the year.
Check out our next week’s Back to School blog: The Do’s & Don’ts of Classroom Management.