Today I want to share the routines I have in place for the end of music class. Several of the ideas I will reference here are ones I have discussed in more detail in previous posts- click on the links if you want more details. If you still aren't sure or just want to discuss something further, please leave a comment! I love hearing from you!! :)
My general goal is to finish the main "class work" 5 minutes before the end of class. If there are instruments or materials that need to be put away, I try to have that done by this time as well. No matter what you do, giving students TIME to transition is essential. At this point, they are all sitting in their assigned seats, and I say the exact same phrase every class period, while raising my hand in the exact same way: "OK, raise your hand and tell me one thing that we did today!". Having some kind of specific and consistent CUE helps students know that a transition is coming.
This is where my behavior management system comes into play. I have a full-class reward system for classes to work towards earning a "free choice" time in class. I track their progress during each class period with a letter system, which is purely based on behavior, but I tell them at the beginning of the year that if they can't remember everything they did that day, they will lose a letter. Giving students a chance to REVIEW the class material not only helps them academically/intellectually, but it helps them process everything we did and reflect on it, which is a key component of transitioning. I find that since I don't see them every day, giving students a chance to review at the end of class is critical to helping them remember the material for the next lesson. Plus I figure it really is a reflection of their behavior if they can't remember what they learned in the last 30-60 minutes. It is an indication of how focused they were during the lesson.
Once we have reviewed the lesson, it's time to line up. I use my hand signals to have them stand up quickly and silently, then they are to fix their chairs so they are lined up neatly for the next class. Once everyone is quietly standing in front of their nicely-lined-up chairs, I cue them (again with my hand signals) to turn and walk to the door, one row at a time. They line up on the tape I have on the floor so they know exactly where to go. Having as FEW VERBAL COMMANDS as possible makes transitions faster, calmer, and gives fewer opportunities for misbehavior.
While they are lining up, I quickly select and fill out a happy note for one student. Occasionally I am also writing a behavior slip at this time, but usually I do that whenever it is needed during class. If the class has a lot of students who get discouraged when they aren't the ones to get the happy note, I do that first and then quickly move on to the overall class' points on the board. If not, I usually save the happy note for last. Ending with something POSITIVE always helps the students' moods as they prepare to leave. A quick reminder of hallway behavior (quiet, walking) and where they are going (to Mrs. Smith, to gym, to lunch) and we're out! PREPARE students for the next activity by talking about it beforehand.
What do you do at the end of class to help students transition well from your class? Share your ideas in the comments below!