Most of my “transitions” with a class of primary school children happen in quite an orderly fashion, but I have one class of year 3s who chitter like a a cage of agitated monkeys as they move from classroom to hall.
It should be so simple; First they bring their chairs and arrange them in three pre-arranged rows. Then they go back to their classroom (just across the corridor from the hall) and fetch the guitars, which are stacked up in a great random pile in the cloakroom. They arrange the guitars in a long row, away from the chairs, with the name labels showing. Finally they look along the rows until they find their guitar, and put it beside the chair on the floor beside them.
In my dreams. What actually happens in that they trickle into the hall, chittering in increasingly high-pitched voices, all bossing each other around. The chairs are abandoned in disorderly rows, far too close together. They then queue up to tell me that this isn’t their guitar, or they can’t find their guitar, or they forgot their guitar, or Simon is sitting in Mary’s seat, or they can play their guitar or they can’t play their guitar or they need a drink or they need the toilet or….
Now that I KNOW that I am not preparing for a Christmas Concert, I can dump the guitar curriculum, and focus the next few lessons on how to transition from class to hall and back without all this fuss!
Getting them back is so much simpler; I issue these simple instructions, warning them not to move until I say “go”
- Don’t move until I say “go”
- You will firstly take your guitar to the cloakroom if you take it home, or to me if it stays in school
- Don’t move yet
- Then come back and fetch your chair and take it back to class
- Don’t move yet
- Do you understand what you have to do?
- Alright, off you go.
Then I start singing one of the songs or chants that we’ve been doing (“Yonder come day”, “Children go, I will send you”, Grandma, Grandma, sick in bed“). They all join in singing as they process like a trail of ants carrying guitars or chairs.Somehow, the singing keeps them focussed on the task, and they don’t start chittering and wittering and messing about.
Now to fathom out how to get them into the hall without losing the plot…