Today’s Keep it Simple Strategies (KISS) – Classroom Management for 6th Grade teachers.
In 6th Grade, your student enters middle school. They start the year with trepidation, maybe outright fear, but a change is definitely in the wind. If you’re a parent, you need to walk a tightrope. On one hand your child needs you more than ever, on the other, they are mortified if you show up at school for any reason whatsoever.
For the teacher though, the social domain is the area in greatest flux. There is a refinement of the mean girl syndrome and the probability of Internet bullying. Develop some strong limits on phone and tablet use in the classroom. Work with the Library Media Specialist or technology folks to install software that will help; filters have come a long way.
Work with your students to make a list of the things bullies do and post them right on a bulletin board in the classroom – next to each one, include the best way to handle it. It helps to discuss this as a group. For example, a new kid at school or someone being bullied for looking or acting different. Many times there’s name calling and using hurtful words towards others. Check out these helpful articles on preventing bullying.
An important tip: don’t ever insert yourself into an ongoing fight – it is dangerous and you could be hurt. You might work with your Principal and bring in some professionals who can provide professional development on restraint training and ways to “use your words”.
If the bullying is constant and happening on social media, use the site’s available technology tools. Social media apps usually allow you to block the person. Whether the harassment’s on Facebook, texting, email or tagged photos, be sure to block the person. You must also report the problem to the service; the cyber bully is probably targeting other people. Let your teacher know (chances are they already do), there are laws and regulations in place now that require them to follow up on every bullying event, and they can’t turn a blind eye. Read more bullying stats and visuals for 2020 here.
All students are going through rapid growth in 6th Grade. You’ll have tall children, and very small children. The smaller children may need your support this year. Give them something important to do so they are seen as a leader.
Students are beginning to be identified as either “smart” or “stupid”. Your very intelligent students may need to be challenged to keep growing. They may have developed a fixed mindset, and find that being prompted to “try” is insulting. In many ways these are the most challenging students. See if your kids can be aligned with any gifted student services that are available. My school has a robotics after school program that is terrific.
The bulk of your class, though, is comprised of average kids with lots of energy and enthusiasm. They’ll come up with sometimes outrageous but creative ideas; you can learn to weave the artistry into your lesson plans.
It’s a time to teach kids about individual differences and tolerance, and learning to be kind. This may be the time, in middle school, when SPED students are singled out and teased for differences. The key is to remind every student that we all have challenges to face, but we’re all the same. Try adding some motivational posters to your 6th grade classroom to help with these different challenges.
Resources for this level:
- Children’s Literature – titles to add your classroom library.
- Middle School Resources
- Middle School Teachers
- Pinterest for Classroom Ideas
Add your tips and suggestions to our growing lists, teachers helping teachers is a great way to go. Check out the rest of our KISS Series here.
Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.