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.
Peggy White says
Thank you for your comments and constructive help. I have been hired during Fall break to teach 7, 8, and 9 th grade math at a Christian school. I have never taught math beyond 3rd grade, but it’s the classroom management that unnerves me, not the math. Any specifics you can share are most welcome!
My classroom also has very little manipulatives available. Do you know of any sources to obtain what’s needed at this level at a reasonable cost?
Noelle Pickering says
As far as math manipulatives, I would recommend Algebra tiles and Geometric solids to start with. But, you can get creative if you are on a budget. Geometric solids are all over the place (cereal box, oatmeal canister, etc). I would recommend a good teacher set of algebra tiles but if you can’t afford student sets, use food! Saltine crackers make perfect x^2, the skinny pretzel sticks can be x, and then maybe a Chex cereal or something sweet for constants. The negatives could get a bit tricky, but I think the idea will translate. Alternatively, when I didn’t have fraction bars, I made some on the computer and copied and laminated them on colored paper. That would work, too!
Brittany the TreeKiller says
I’m not complaining or trying to add more work to your plate, but if you ever get bored, I (maybe others too??) would adore a “print to PDF” button for your posts. There have been times when I referenced an article you wrote that I would have loved to have it on hand. I plan on sharing this with our just-in brand new team mate and was ‘struggle bus-ing’ with the stinkin’ margins/ad/format.
BLAH. NOT COMPLAINING. We all LOVE YOU GUYS. Thank you for all of your hard work. I LOVE IT!!!
Tyne Brack says
Hi, Brittany! Thank you for the suggestion. I will look into that because I didn’t know that existed until you suggested it. My suggestion would be to PIN the post (or bookmark it if you don’t use Pinterest), but I do understand the benefit of having a hard copy to share with a teammate. Thanks for reading! -Tyne