KISS – Keep It Simple Strategies – Classroom Management for Middle School Teachers
Now that we have covered the elementary grades, we now move on to Middle School. We can all agree; we’ve now entered a world of aliens, populated by students whose behavior tends to be guided by hormonal factors beyond our control.
Strategy #1: Are you prepared for Middle School kids?
I’ve seen so many frustrated and unhappy Middle School teachers who just haven’t embraced the concept of understanding and connecting with Middle School kids. It may sound simple but it isn’t. If you think you are a teacher that is struggling with connecting to this tricky group, consider sitting down with Human Resources in your district and asking for another assignment, perhaps a classroom in grades K-5. This is not something to be ashamed of; it’s sometimes very hard to manage middle schoolers. Acknowledging the fact that you’re in the wrong place is the first step. You will be happier, and so will the kids.
Strategy #2: Use some tips from Middle School teachers that have gone before you
- Quieting a noisy class can be as simple as wearing a stopwatch around your neck (or wrist). Have a discipline system that uses time as a trade-able commodity. Free time at the end of each day can be given and taken away. When the class is noisy, hold up the watch and start the countdown. Seconds spent watching the watch are added or subtracted from the free time allotment for each day. Managing Middle School kids is also effective when guided by peer pressure; it will only take one child to begin the shhh-ing that will bring the class to order.
- Bell work (or other quick activity to begin the class) – In Middle School, students usually change classes. To get and keep all students on task, come up with a short activity that must be completed on entering the room. You might have a series of math problems on the board. Or have an activity posted to your class website; provide the URL on the board. When students file in, they are to go to the class website to find today’s “bell work” assignment. These activities cut down on chitchat and bring groups to order when the day or period begins.
- Seating arrangements – there are many ways to arrange desks in a classroom. There is only one main caveat – arrange your students in a configuration that benefits you and the way you teach. If you have individual desks for each student, I find the U-shaped configuration to be the best. It lets the teacher walk around and check student work. With a quick spin, you can see everyone in the room yet provide individual help along the way. If your classroom came equipped with tables for seating in groups of 4-6, let your curriculum guide the way you want that to work. For instance, if you’re a science teacher, each table group can be a project, or a contract in progress. Each table can be a station with a computer for reference work, etc.
Middle School doesn’t have to be a stressful experience (any more than other grade levels). My first strategy though, is key; you really must be comfortable managing Middle School kids.
Resources for your review:
- Middle School tips on Pinterest
- Association for Middle Level Education
- The Middle School Experience
- Middle School Math World
- Middle School Lesson Plans – sharemylesson.com
- Notes from a Master Teacher
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.