20 Ways to Quickly and Quietly Transition your Students


Are your students struggling with transitions? Do you find yourself spending a lot of time waiting on them to get ready for the next lesson? Or are you constantly shushing them in the hallways? Getting your students to transition quickly and quietly takes time and lots of patience. We asked some teacher colleagues how they get their students to move throughout the school and came up with 20 ways to quickly and quietly transition your students.

Teachers gave some tried and true ideas to get students to transition quickly and quietly: 

Quiet Transition 1 –

Do you have recess? I had to start using a timer. They “owe time” that they wasted but they have the opportunity to earn it back during the next transition… they have been earning their time back lately.” -Mercedes S. 

2 –

“We’re standing up straight and tall, our voices are at zero… we’re ready for the hall.”  -April B.

3 –

“I use the CLASS CUES app. We have a song cue for everything we do. I don’t say a word! I just pick a cue in the app and they know what to do! I’ve used it for the past 5 or so years. It’s life-changing!” -Lynsie H. 

Quick Transition 4 –

“We do beat the timer! And then a lot of times, if we’re going to recess or something, if they aren’t meeting expectations, they have to sit down and try again.” -Megan H. 

5 –

“Secret walker. Randomly pick a student and don’t tell them who. If that student is walking correctly and quietly the class earns a point towards a reward.”  -Lauren W. 

Quick Transition 6 –

“Lots of practicing. Go back and sit down and try again.” -Winnie M.

7 –

“The first month is super important in setting expectations and procedures. It’s not too much to ask. I teach Math & Science and have 2 classes. Both are doing excellent, and when they get sidetracked…which I wouldn’t expect anything else, I remind them. ‘Are we in our squares, facing forward, directly behind the person in front of us? Let’s see how Straight we can walk in our hallway procedure! Let’s show the other classes how we line up!’ And of course, brag that they are trying their hardest! I always use procedures to line up in the classroom. I call them by rows. ‘Row one, quietly stand, push your chair in, and line up.’ Once they are in line, I repeat for the next few rows. Then remind them of the hallway procedure!” -Morgan T. 

8 –

“I have students stand in line and repeat after me: Eyes facing forward, feet in a line, hands to myself, bubbles in my mouth. And I repeat specific ones if students aren’t doing them until they all do it.” -Karina D

Quick Transition 9 –

“We practiced quick and quiet transitions in class until they met my expectations. We will practice during snack time if need be. I have 24 students and they do a good job. Just be consistent.” – Connie M. 

10 –

“I literally have them practice and time them. They practice coming from different areas of the room (carpet, desks, random.) We try to beat our record (without running/pushing/etc.) When they get REALLY good, I record videos of them and we watch it back. They love it!” -Lindsey M. 

11 –

“I use lots of songs and signals for the different transitions. I explicitly teach, model and we practice, practice, practice. Recently we have started timing how quickly and quietly we can line up. They try to beat their time. 23 students and we are at 58 seconds.”  -Roberta S.

12 –

“1. Stand up 2. Get ready (face wherever they are going, take a deep breath) 3. Move” -Robin N. 

Quiet Transition 13 –

“I use different songs to signal transitions so they know what to do when. For example, math is 867-5309, writing is Paperback Writer, reading is the Reading Rainbow theme song.” -Christy B.

14 –

“We had to start early to practice. If they didn’t line up properly they sat back down and tried again. I would tell them that if it took a third time we would miss our specials (Not really, but it worked). It took some time but 37 days in, they are doing great!!” -Alice V.

15 –

“I start with 3 lines facing the back of the room, where our door is (students line up by order of their desks, and we practice over and over until they get it). The star student is the line leader, and they pick the quietest/best-behaved row to go first, then 2nd, then last. I have rows 1, 2, and 3. I hope that makes sense!” -Julie B.

16 –

“I do transition games, I use sight word flash cards. I pick a word from our weekly practice flashcards, all of table 1 (or whichever table I choose, has to be the quietest table) will line up and they have to tell me the word. Then, I choose a new word and the next quietest table. Etc. If the table makes noise lining up they have to go sit back down and wait their turn. The kids love it, it is sight word practice. I can assess who knows their words, it’s fun, and it gets them to line up quietly…it works like a charm. FYI- you can basically do this with any skill/content area.” -Amanda R. 

Quiet Transition 17 –

“I have the ‘Mystery Walker’ when moving from room to room/bathroom, etc. All names are on discs, I take one out of the container & watch that student as we go. If that student follows all of the rules, they earn points. Works a treat! Coming to the floor at the end of group work time, or independent tasks, I say – ‘2, 2, 3, 4. Everyone sit on the floor!’ Students who sit quickly & quietly before the end of the rhyme earn points or extra play & that’s another great incentive!”  -Noleen C. 

18 –

“Last one’s a rotten egg is the only thing working with my group this year but it’s effective!” -Laurie M. 

19 –

“I use footprints laminated and stuck to the floor my students learn to stand on them” -Peta F.

Quiet Transition 20 –

“Today I tried something new and it was like magic. I used Screencastify to make some minilessons. I found a 5-way headphone splitter so I can set up one Chromebook at the table. 5 kids can watch the same video and complete the accompanying task.” – Deborah Petty

Whether you are struggling with getting your students to quickly and quietly transition or something completely different in your classroom, there are always ways to keep your students engaged and improving. We understand that it gets difficult and even though this is a unique and challenging year, you are not alone.

We know that 20 ways to quickly and quietly transition your students are not enough to make it through the year.

Here are some other resources you can use to help you make it through the year:

There is endless support and resources available in the Fearless Kindergarten Teachers: Education to the Core Facebook Group,  Fearless First Grade Teachers: Education to the Core Facebook Group, or the Fearless Second Grade Teachers: Education to the Core Facebook Group. 

This group of teachers is a wealth of knowledge and is continuously encouraging. You can also sign up for our free Teaching Tiny Humans Teacher Course where you will get weekly emails and guidance on how to navigate tough situations, along with tips, tricks, activity ideas, and freebies to make this school year a success. 

In addition, you can follow us on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook @educationtothecore for continued information and resources as the season progresses, or listen to our podcast Where the Primary Things Are.

In addition to finding support from your fellow teachers, you can also use resources like ETTC Premium to help make your life easier. It is $9.99 for a month and you gain unlimited access to all of the ETTC resources we have in our shop. That means you can take away some of the stress and difficulties with access to thousands of no prep worksheets and activities ranging from ELA and Math all the way to Science, SEL, and Social Studies.

If it gets to the point where you need to take a mental health day using a resource like the Editable Sub Plans make having a guest teacher a little less overwhelming.

Written by – Korryna Sanchez

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