The secrets to maintaining calm classroom transitions, which I have implemented successfully and perfected over the past 15 years of my teaching career are:-
Firstly, you need to do a run down of the activities for the day so that the children know what the order of activities are. They may not remember the whole sequence, but when it is mentioned again as the time for those activities draw nearer, they won’t be caught off guard.
Secondly, you need to make sure that they have plenty of time to finish a task. With this in mind, you will need to take a second look at your class schedule and take note of the activities which are hardest to transition out off. I’d suggest that you plan your lesson out well so that you don’t pack in too much to do when you know that you won’t have enough time for the children to complete it.
Thirdly, give them a heads up. Children need time to adjust and to transition from one thing to the other…..more so for those who have established good concentration skills and are able to stay on task longer. so sometimes, a quick “OK children, you have 3 more minutes to finish up and we can start cleaning up and putting things away.”, (rather than “It’s time to go! Clean up NOW and line up!”) goes a long way. Also, remember, if you say that they can play for 3 minutes, it means 3 mins and no more.
Finally, make provisions for projects that are ongoing. If you use project approach in your classroom, where you have an activity or a few activities that need to be worked on progressively on a daily basis, it’s important that you provide children with properly labeled storage spaces for them to keep their unfinished work away. That way, they know that they can always pick up where they left off.
Good luck and thanks for listening!