As a teacher it is common to hear phrases like, “this has been the most difficult year” or “I am counting down until May”. In fact, I have said those same things multiple times.
Putting paper to pencil, I came up with a list of six key steps to a more peaceful classroom. Over the next three days week I will be sharing these steps, so that we can start the year off right with a strong classroom management plan. Obviously, this is not all encompassing, but I hope to have us all thinking, so that we can be calm and collected come August.
1. Set Clear and Concise Expectations
Students, especially middle school aged, need to be given clear and concise expectations. In my opinion, you cannot set enough expectations. Here are a few things to think through:
- how they talk to you
- how they talk to each other
- how they move in the classroom
- how they get your attention
- when is an appropriate time to ask a question
- how to work in groups
My second year of teaching, I taught sixth grade. Their age and size helped me to realize that when I gave a direction, I needed to be very specific. “Put away your materials” is a direction, but “I would like to see only a pencil on each person’s desk” is a more specific and clear expectation. The next year, I moved up to eighth grade. They seemed so much more capable. I assumed they knew how to behave in the classroom. That was a lesson learned. I spent a tremendous amount of time back pedaling as I reinstated basic classroom expectations.
2. Have a Plan
Many people might consider setting expectations and having a plan to be very similar things. I would venture to say that they are quite different.
I can set the expectation that we are going to work in groups and each person will be responsible for a different role. However, unless I have communicated what the roles are or have given a specific task to each person, there will likely be one or two people in the group working, and a few others
acting ridiculous goofing off.
If the expectation is that everyone is in their seat when the bell rings, how will you handle a student who is tardy or another who needs to sharpen their pencil? Think through the different movement, tasks, and communication that take place in the classroom. Create a plan to ensure success, rather than giving an off the cuff response.
…Stop by tomorrow for part 2.
You can find a list of routines and procedures that all middle school students should be taught here.