Tackle Transition Times Like a Pro!

Transition times in the Special Education classroom can be difficult. Check out these 2 easy tips to tackle transition times like a pro in your classroom!
Teaching our students to transition in the Special Education classroom is a necessary skill. Students need to transition to school, between activities, around campus, and from school each and every day. Teaching these skills can be really tricky in the high intensity classroom, but I have two tips to help your students tackle transition times like pros!


Start small. Start transitioning one student at a time in your classroom. This is going to do two things for your classroom.

  1. You will be able to utilize prompting techniques to teach your students HOW to transition in the classroom. I always tend to teach with prompting. I start full physical prompting my students through the routine and quickly fade the prompts until students are able to complete the chain of activities independently.
  2. You are going to minimize the amount of distractions in your classroom by keeping other students occupied at center times or engaged in classroom activities. Students will be able to focus on transitions without the distractions their peers may cause in the chain of activities.
Of course, as with any prompt or intervention, it is important to quickly fade things in the classroom, so when a student is able to consistently and independently transition in the classroom, I will add a second student to the transition time. This allows students to continue to develop transition skills in a more naturalistic setting.

I have a personal pet peeve. Telling a student to "check your schedule" is not a natural cue. I like to use transition items in my classroom paired with timers in order for my students to know WHEN it is time to transition. In these instances, students are given an item that cues them to check their schedule. I will often pair this item with a verbal cue that is more natural, such as "center time is finished." This simple cue will alert students that the previous activity has ended. Often times, this is not enough for our students to be alerted to transitioning to the next activity in the classroom.

In these instances, I utilize a transition item so the student knows that they are now expected to do something. Like I shared previously, students may not know what to do with this item in the beginning, but through prompting and fading, you are able to TEACH your students what to do with these items.

Some of my favorite transition items are:
  • Name tags
  • Pictures
  • Items necessary for the next task
Utilizing a transition item is a great way to get students to recognize when it is time to transition in your classroom. What are your biggest struggles when it comes to transitions?



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