The teacher I observe for at least an hour four days a week has fairly good control of her classroom. One of the techniques she uses for opening a lesson is to simply reflect on the previous lesson. She will give the class prompts about what we did the day before and ask them what they remembered. This seems to get their minds slightly more focused on science rather than attacking a new lesson or introducing a new concept right after lunch. During a lesson, she is insistent on a raised hand in order to be recognized, even if the student is the only one answering, and they are correct. It appears as though this consistency has taken hold, and it is rare for a student to blurt out an answer. With almost every closing she will try and recap what happened that day. She will ask questions of the students, and the answers are usually easy, but I think it gets the students to revisit the material once more before turing their focus to something else for the next 23 hours.
The most note worthy transition this teacher is famous for, is the after breakfast (and lunch) bell. When it is time to come to class she has a small bell she rings. The sound is extremely annoying to all except her. Her policy is that she keeps ringing the bell until all students are headed her way. She has met some resistance to this in the past, but at the moment she has them all trained. Another transition she uses often is to require students to return their science folder directly to her with all work inside before leaving the classroom. She calls this their ticket to leave, and strangely enough they all rush to get the folder to her and get out… The up-side for her is, she doesn’t have to wait long to collect the folders, and the class clears out quickly giving her more time to prepare for the next lesson. At the end of the day some students are picked up by a bus ten minutes early because of where they live, while the rest must remain at school until the bus arrives at 3:00. On occasion the bus driver will be early for the students dismissed at 2:50. This does not affect her decision to let the students go. She is very adamant that they are not to leave the classroom even a minute early regardless of what else is going on, and as a result no one asks to leave early, they know the question would be futile.
My biggest positive take away from my many observations has been the value of consistency in the classroom, not just for my sake, but for the students as well. It removes a lot of the potential doubt or anxiety that comes with the uncertainty associated with loose or unclear policies.