Transitions in the Classroom

Ideas to make your transitions effortless

The Behind the Scenes Prep Work

Have explicit directions (Google Doc, Open Class, Keynote, ex.) at each station so that when students transition to the next station so you do not have to review instructions all over again. You may even want to make a recording (audio or video of expectations).

Post Transition Norms and Procedures to review with students (minimal talking, no loitering, close computer lids and carry with both hands, etc.)

Physical Layout of your rooms lends itself to easier transition movement by students. If your classroom does not have the required space for easy movement then, have the activity rotate NOT the group (may help certain groups)

Start with one rotation to begin with until students are able to transition effectively and understand classroom procedure and norms for transitions between stations or activities


A timer can be crucial in keeping students on task and accountable. Here are a few free resources to assist you with this.

Online Stopwatch:

Egg Timer:

Google Timer: Just type “20 minute timer” in the Google search field (or however many minutes you want it to be)

Other cues to get them to move

Reverse of Musical Chairs: when the background song goes off it’s time to transition OR actual musical chairs when you put music on, they have to sit down when you shut it off

“Whistle While You STOP” whistle by mouth or use a whistle to prompt them to move. They must be seated by the time you stop.

Hand signals, verbal phrases, Echo, Slowly Flicker lights to signal stations will end in designated amount of time and then use music to move between stations

Check out this teacher in action

While she may be an elementary educator, there's ALOT we can learn. Elementary classrooms operate on station rotations with many transitions all the time.
Ms. Noonan: Managing Transitions


Provide anchor activities in case students get done before a station ends.

Preferred Activity Time (P.A.T - If transition is completed before the time is up, the class can earn “preferred activity time

Fluid transitions: Students transition to a new activity as they complete their current activity (personalized learning).