Image Map

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: routines for the end of class

So, you've been moving, playing, singing, discussing, writing, and everything else an awesome music class does, and now it's time for the party to end. How do you get your students ready for the hallway? It's not as simple as telling them to line up and be quiet. I went to an intensive training on improving school climate recently, and one of the major topics was transitions. Transitions are hard for anyone, but they are especially difficult for children- even more so for children who face social/emotional challenges (which many of my students face).

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!

12 comments :

  1. I too had the rule of thumb of saving five minutes for the transition to the door. When I didn't save that time, I always felt rushed and the class' behavior in line showed the change as well. That time at the end is like a cool-down at the end of a workout :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great analogy! So many good music lessons are a huge workout for the body, mind, and spirit! :)

      Delete
  2. I completely agree! If you allow less time for cleanup and regrouping, you will see more behavior problems during line-up. I often do "verbal exit slips" as a review. Students must answer a question in order to line up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the verbal exit slip! I should try doing that sometime in place of my full class review time and see how it goes. I know other homeroom teachers do that sometimes and it seems to work well. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  3. I have an exit slip board "Make a Grand Exit" and on the staff are hooks with eighth notes with teacher names. They hang their exit slip on the hook with their teacher and put their clipboards away and line up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also do happy notes as well and have been for many years. They are a big hit although now I find that happy note bracelets work just as well and are reusable. The happy note students get to go first in games and activities and write their names on the board.

      Delete
    2. I love my happy notes! They are such a great way to make positive connections with students :) I love your exit slip hook idea- would love to see a picture! It sounds so cool!

      Delete
    3. I'm not sure how to post a photo on here but I can email one to you if you'd like. Last year I had cubbies in the K room so I turned them around and used the backs of them. This year I'm using separate bulletin boards for each grade but stretching the staff across them. Last year I used black yarn for the grand staff and this year I'm drawing the staff since the mini boards are separate. (I'm in a 1st grade room this year)

      Delete
    4. I would love that, thank you! My email is caldwell.organized.chaos@gmail.com . It sounds super cool! :)

      Delete
    5. I would like to see the pic of the exit hooks as well. Please send to: Bethmarble@aol.com

      Delete
  4. How do you keep track of students who have been recognized for good behavior? I worry about making sure everyone included! thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I keep track on my seating chart- just a simple set of checkboxes. Here's a post on that: http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/2016/09/seating-chart-hacks.html

      Delete