Successful transitions can make or break the school day!
Work to hallway. Recess to learning. Bathroom to quiet work time. Classroom teachers start and stop activities a lot during the day! In my first grade class, we spend lots of time practicing these transitions throughout the year, with my hope that I will save teaching time (and my sanity) if we can transition quickly and quietly between different parts of our day. When the school day has a rhythm and activities are given proper beginnings and endings, more learning can occur. Here are four strategies for successful transitions.
We practice student-led belly breathing before each whole group academic learning time. Students prepare by putting one hand over their belly and one hand on their heart. One student leads the breaths with the sphere while another counts in a slow, calm voice. Sometimes we will follow the breaths with classmates offering compliments to each other about their breathing or their leadership.
The expectation in our class is that students are facing forwards, with voices off and hands to themselves, so that we are safe and calm to travel in the hall– and I’m sure these expectations are familiar to most elementary school teachers. However, I’ve found that having students find their best mountain pose is much more effective than reminders of about the rules. Cuing mountain before we enter the hallway means that we are showing respect to ourselves and those around us. Every time we line up, we go into mountain. Standing straight and tall, our bodies are activated, and with our eyes and feet pointing in the direction that we’re going. I explain that mind strength is another word for self-control.
Chair and Eagle
My students practice the chair and eagle poses after a bathroom break.
Chair pose makes their big leg and arm muscles work, and eagle pose has them crossing the midline of their body– which prepares their brain for our literacy block after the break. Check out the Move Mindfully® Transitioning Routine for a great poster visual for the hallway.
We practice Yoga Calm®’s Volcano Breath and Woodchopper to release throughout the day. Volcano breath is great after PE, lunch, recess, buddy classroom , and assemblies because it calms and centers us, regulates our breath and brings the group together and ready for what is coming next. Woodchopper is another option for those times of the day or year when my students kids might be anxious or full of energy. This pose energizes and stimulates the nervous system. After we wood chop together, we take belly breaths– a unifying activity that is calming after we get our energy out with woodchopper.
These tips will create a more peaceful and seamless flow to your day. And, when we breathe together, everyone wins! What transition strategies have worked for you? Leave a comment!
By Heidi Schuchman, NBCT