Classroom Management Tricks for Middle SchoolMiddle school students are great. They are fun, enthusiastic, and curious. However, when I first started teaching middle school (from high school), some of the comments that I heard include "middleschoolers are like squirrels" and "teaching middle school is a lot like teaching pre-school. You never know what will happen if you blink." It's true! You blink, or give them too much freedom and you don't know what might happen! There are a few very simple strategies that will help control the chaos and keep things calm in your classroom.
I teach 7th and 8th grade in an urban district in Upstate NY. It is a school that has only recently expanded from preK-6 to preK-8. That means there is lots of room to grow, and bugs to work out as we prepare our school for middle school students.
Middle school kids need a lot of structure, and a different structure than elementary students. I am working on ways to instill that in my classroom, and to uphold high behavioral expectations and create the kind of classroom culture that I want, within the walls of my classroom. I wanted to share some of the free resources that I have been using to do that:
Timers for Classroom ManagementThese can be used for bellwork, during activities, or any time to want to add structure. These timers can be accessed online, or downloaded and added directly to the smartboard files. They include a candle burning, a bomb about to explode, a runner, and many others that students find very engaging.
Students are much more focused when they are encouraged to complete a task before the time is up. You will see a dramatic decrease in off-task behaviors.
ClassdojoAnother tool that I have used in the website classdojo. It allows for public or private tallying of 'dojo points' for any behaviors that you set. You can track positive and negative, and can have students track behaviors on the smartboard, or track them yourself through an ipad, smartphone, or computer and then check in between/after activities. Students get to pick a cute monster icon (my middle school kids were very excited about that) and then it can change as they get more points.
The list of rewards that I use in my classroom is also available on my TpT store for only $1, or in a different version here as a blog exclusive freebie. These can obviously be modified to anything that you want, that is motivating to your students, but they may be a good place to start. All my incentives are free to the teacher. I have included individual and classroom rewards, written in both a set for classdojo, and a set for use without classdojo. Finally, classdojo can be a great behavioral tracking tool to use with behavioral RTI and collect/track data.