Day 6: The Trouble with Transitions

This March I’m “slicing” a piece of my day every day in chronological order,11454297503_e27946e4ff_h sequentially.

Transitions happen throughout every day. Some students anticipate the next move. They know the drill. They hear the call. They are ready to learn. These students are unusual. When they arrive, notebook and pen in hand, desk neat, I tell them they just got an “A” in middle school.

The majority of students are not there yet. For most, transitions are tough.

There is the one who is quietly reading. The one who is digging around in his desk for his notebook. The one who hopes if she’s really quiet, no one will notice. And then there are the many conversations that distract and derail students along the way to the next thing.

The time between the first student to the last in a meeting area makes me want to abandon whole group instruction. But there are times we need it: a conversation, a lesson, a read aloud. One would think with all my years of teaching fifth graders, with all those transitions, I’d have mastered them, but I’m still learning. Wondering if it is possible.

Recently I’ve been investigating teaching students across all subjects. It’s an exciting and intimidating venture. Just imagining a room of math teachers and my self-esteem goes south. They quickly calculate while I think if I’m really quiet they won’t notice me.  Facing what I don’t know makes me want to stay in my seat and dig for a notebook.

That is exactly what my students feel every day. Because of my experience, I forget what that means. Being a learner is living in discomfort. It makes sense that moving from one thing to the next is tough.

Transitions happen at individual rates.They are sticky and uncomfortable. But they are necessary. And that is the trouble with transitions.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for the March 2017 Slice of Life Challenge. Read more slices here.


7 thoughts on “Day 6: The Trouble with Transitions

  1. Transitions could possibly be the bane of my every evaluation and observation. I am just now learning to accept them as messy and slow and necessary.

  2. Julieanne,
    So true . . .”Transitions happen at individual rates.They are sticky and uncomfortable. But they are necessary. And that is the trouble with transitions.”

    If it was easy, it wouldn’t be such a big deal to show up “prepared” at middle school. Or in life for adults. I often do a “2 minute warning” and then “1 minute announcement” with “Coming back together in 30 seconds” for adults. Not everyone is ready. But it’s an effort to honor those who are!

  3. Waiting, then waiting, and waiting some more sucks the time from our day. I never thought of the laggers as the ones who are trying to postpone the next learning bit because they are not comfortable with the subject. Hmmm, something to ponder.

  4. You took me back to my own classroom. Remember we had different groups all the time? And yes, there were some who seemed to always be “digging for their notebooks”. And as I’m sure you do, we talked often about organization, planning ahead, etc. Most managed well toward the end of the year, but some I worried about especially if they were leaving to go off to high school, knowing the requirements there. Finding a personal way to manage was one thing I pushed on. Each student is different, & each needed to find what worked for them. Your idea about the reluctance because they felt unsure about a particular topic is good. Most of my students had math in another classroom, & some were often late. I enjoyed thinking about this, Julieanne.

  5. Your recent posts on life in a classroom have been bringing back many memories to me. I retired two and 1/2 years ago, but there are still some things I do miss. Doing anything with other humans is tricky and often messy. I’ve been in several adult groups since I retired and I can assure you grownups have trouble with transitions, too. Bringing up the lagging as perhaps due to reluctance to embrace the next topic is an interesting insight. And then again, there are just some people/kids who don’t “snap to it!” But not everyone is the same and thank goodness for that.

  6. Transitions are so hard, but we do good work when we help our kids figure out how to manage these for themselves – it’s patient, long view work, as you so well describe, Julieanne.

  7. Transitions are necessary evils. Always tough and tough to get kids back on track. This seems to be where trouble starts, too. You have so many insights when you become the learner as well.

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