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Middle school students are both exciting and difficult to teach. They are exciting because they are moving toward adulthood and constantly changing. They are difficult because they are not fully mature and often lapse into behaviors of younger children. Finding classroom management techniques that work at this age takes some trial and error. Here are some classroom management techniques that worked for me.
Establish Authority- Make it clear to your classes that you are the only adult in the room. On occasion I would have clarify this by saying – “My room, my rules, my game, I win."
Behavior Expectations- Post a list of expected behaviors rather than a list of behaviors you don’t want to see.
Student Questionaire-Get to know your students when the year begins.Having them fill out a questionnaire which gives you information about who they live with, what they like to do, etc may provide you with some important insights. Also give them the opportunity to tell you anything they think you should know.
Teacher Questionaire-Tell your students a little bit about yourself. This makes them realize that you are human. Some things that work with this age group are pets, hobbies, sports, and TV/movie interests.
Signals- Use non-verbal signals to give directions to those who are not on task. These allow you to continue teaching without interruption. It also keeps the offender somewhat anonymous.
Positivity- As often as possible make positive comments.Praise by name those who are following directions or who are on task.
Get Social- This is an age group that is very social. Using group activities can give students a chance to talk while they work. If group work is not your thing, allow the class to get all of their talking done in the first 3 minutes of class.
Organization-Organize your classroom so that students know where to find the supplies that they need. Be sure they know when and how they are to get those supplies. If you use groups make one person responsible for supplies. The alternative might be to have two people assigned to distribute and collect books on a weekly rotation.
Privacy-If you need to address something with an individual student do so privately.When I needed to talk privately to a student I would ask him to step into my office. My office was the hallway area just outside of my classroom. Part of the class could see me so that no one could say that I had touched a child but they couldn’t hear the discussion. With this age group you don’t want to give the student you are talking to an audience.
Clarity-When giving directions be sure that you have everyone’s attention. Use as few words as possible to convey your message because middle school children check out by your fourth word. Write the directions on the board as well.
I hope you find some of these classroom management techniques helpful in your own classroom. Now tell us what do you do to maintain order in your classroom?