Survive Hallway Transitions

Behavior, CHAMPS, PBIS

It’s not uncommon for my class to sometimes arrive late to recess, lunch, or a specialists class.  Why?  Because when we’re in the hallway, it’s expected that all students are making wise choices.  This isn’t an easy task to accomplish.  Whether it is the entire class or a few students, taking the time to address challenging hallway behavior is a must.  Doing so will make hallway transitions a positive and successful experience for the entire class.  Read on to discover strategies that I use with my class to improve hallway behavior!

1.  Establish Line Order

Typically I allow my class to line up as they wish.  Occasionally line order is needed to Keep the Peace.  In these cases, we decide as a class what our line order will be.  I sketch it on the whiteboard, or we may use the SMARTboard.  We remind ourselves what the hallway expectations are and I ask my students to carefully think about who they should not stand next to in line, and who would be OK to stand next to in line.  We use our student numbers to label our line order.  The line order we decide on may get tweaked as the days and weeks pass.  I always print this for specialists teachers and our Guest Teachers.  I also add a piece of tape or color dot circle labels to the squares on the floor.  Each student gets a tile to stand on.  This gives them ample space to stand in line.

download-icon Download SMARTboard Line Order File

line order

2. Keep ’em Busy

  • “Here, carry this for me!”
  • Sensory Tools

2016-08-15 07.41.44

Depending on the year, and class dynamics, I may grab a sensory tool or two before we head out of the classroom.  Sometimes a student is given a sensory tool tool to keep their hands busy.  This might be on an as-needed-basis or on a more permanent basis.  If a student is having a hard time in the hallway, and it’s not something that is a repeat issue, I may give them something to hold.   It might be that they hold the box of Scholastic Books that just arrived.  It might be that they hold my clipboard, phone, or lanyard.  Whatever I happen to have at the time becomes a distraction for them– it’s kind of their short-term job.  This job keeps them busy until we get to our destination.

2016-08-15 07.36.19

3. Use Verbal Cues

  • “We’re stuck!”
  • How will you help us get to ____?


Once we leave POINT A to head to POINT B, we hope to not have to stop due to behavior issues.  If we do, I step out of line, stand to the side toward the middle, and say, “We’re STUCK.”  I then simply stand and wait.  I may have to repeat the “We’re stuck” several times.  If it’s a particular student or pair of students, I may say, “How will you help us get to _____.”

4. Assign Jobs/Tasks

  • Send student on ahead to ____
  • Send student on ahead to ____ to _____


Occasionally when we’re getting ready to transition from one part of the building to the next, many students are ready, but some aren’t and we have to wait until all are lined up.  This task is sometimes hard for some.  They might be ready to leave, but because we’re waiting on the last few to line up, the temptation to get off task and make inappropriate choices might be too appealing for some!  In these cases I send the child on ahead.  I may say, “_____, we’re almost ready to leave.  I’d like you to go on ahead and meet us at ________.”  OR, “Hey, ____, could you take this to ____ for me? And, when  you’re done, meet us at _____.”  I then send them off with a quick reminder of the hallway expectations.  I may even send a very capable student with them!

5. Form a Four S Line

4s Line

This anchor chart can be seen around the Internet in various forms and versions.  Here’s ours.  I did a quick image search and believe the original photo/idea came from Adventures of an Art Teacher.  I created our template on a banner from Vista Print.  The faces are actual student photos.  I print a set of “first day of school photos” for students and they cut out their faces and attach them to the chart with Velcro.  If we are practicing line order, we make sure the faces are in actual line order.

6. Reward with Beak Tickets

2016-08-15 07.38.36

We’re a PBIS school.  Our school-wide rewards system utilizes BEAK Tickets.  Students collect them and redeem them throughout the year at the Eagle’s Nest or at quarterly celebrations.  I keep a stack of BEAK tickets with me on a lanyard.  This way I can recognize excellent execution of Eagle 3 behavior (respectful, responsible, safe) in my own students and in students from other classrooms.

7. Create a Hallway Anchor Chart

We make this chart in September.  When we make this one next year, I plan on writing the “Walking Feet” and “Hands to Self” inside the feet and hands.

hallway rules

8.  Choose a Mystery Person (Mystery Walker)

You may have already read about our Mystery Person of the day in another post, but I thought I’d share it here, too!  The idea behind our Mystery Person activity is to help us develop better behavior habits.  When I select someone as the Mystery Person, their name is only known to me. Having a Hallway Mystery Person (MP) is kind of like a game for the kids.  They don’t know who, they just know that if they are the Mystery Person/Walker, and they do their job exceptionally well, they get to pick a class reward.  Rewards are selected by the MP if they earn it.  I only reveal the MP’s face/name if they have earned a “YES” for positive behavior.  I use these boards in conjunction with our CHAMPS board (also introduce 3rd/4th quarter).  To change up the Hallway MP routine, instead of choosing just one child, from time to time I’ll select one boy and one girl.  Or all girls, or all boys.

hallway MP

download-icon Download Mystery Person File

9. Sing the Teacher Tipster Hallway Song

Love this guy…  Keeping it fun and fresh is what it’s all about!

10. Watch Your School’s PBIS Booster Video

My elementary tech club is in the process of making brand new PBIS booster videos, but here’s a copy of our old one.  Not that our expectations changed— the kids just grew up!  I posted QR codes throughout our ALL AREAS that have these QR code links.  When scanned they link to our booster videos.  Teachers can scan with their devices for a whole class, small group, or 1:1 training (impromptu or planned)!  Click on the image below to watch our school’s video.

hallway qr

Why so many options?  Keeping it fresh and fun is key for not only students, but teachers as well!  What are your favorite ways to foster positive line/hallway behavior?

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  • Elli Lee
    October 10, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Thank you for always being so AWESOME and sharing your fabulous ideas! You inspire me, and make me want to be a better teacher. Thank you for making a difference for so many teachers.

    • Jessica Meacham
      October 22, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Glad to help, Elli!