Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Classroom Management in Middle School

Have classroom management that is not too hard and not too soft.

Have classroom management that is not too hard and not too soft.I reflect back on my experience as a new teacher and I cringe a little bit at my classroom management.  I was young, right out of college, and only nine years older than most of my students.  In the first couple of years, I would consider my classroom management to be too soft.  I remember I had a difficult time correcting students when they were wrong and explicitly asking students to “cut it out.”  Luckily, I had a very sweet group of students and we all made it through the year in one piece.

Have classroom management that is not too hard and not too soft.Then a big turning point occurred – probably for the worse – when the veteran teacher on our team retired.  I LOVED my team, but we were notoriously known as the young, fun, spirited team.  I felt we might be out of balance without structure, and I took on classroom management that I would now consider too hard.  This particular year I had conflicts with two students.  In both cases, I followed very strict black-and-white rules and my relationship with these students suffered because of it.  Also, I was miserable this year because this just wasn’t me.

It’s difficult to think back to these early years because since then I’ve struck the right balance and I can {painfully} identify the things that I did wrong.  Because I value self-reflection and because I hope someone else can learn from my mistakes, I would like to share some things to consider about having classroom management that is not too hard and not too soft.

Relationship Building v. friendship
Aim to build relationships with your students, not become their friend.  Get to know your students by learning about their interests and hobbies.  Attend concerts and games.  Show that you care.  Always remember though that you are not their friend; not their peer.  You are an adult who is a positive role model and an authority figure.

Be consistent without being unsympathetic
Rules are good and important, but you also can’t be so set on the rules that you forget that sometimes exceptions need to be made.  This one makes me think about the TD Bank commercial about B.A.R.T, the “robot” from the “other” banks.  It is very important to be consistent with students so that they understand the expectation.  However, it can be damaging to your relationships if you are such a “robot” that you never take the time to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Expect students to listen
Scan the room when you’re talking to make sure everyone is listening.  If you let a little side conversation continue, you need to remember that they are not hearing what it is you’re saying.  And the students around them are likely distracted by the extra noise.  And some students may even lose respect for you because they’re frustrated by the lack of classroom management being exhibited.  There’s no reason that students should be talking when you or another student is sharing information.

Be Yourself {Your teacher self}
My problems mostly arose when I wasn’t being myself.  Stay true to what you believe is right and always act in the best interest of your students and your classroom.  Take on whatever style feels most comfortable to you as long as you feel you are achieving the desired results.  I, myself, have always liked to have a structured class with strong routines and smooth flow.  BUT I also love to break up some boring moments with a funny story, comment, or action.  I’ve been known to wake a sleeping student with a dropped textbook or engage the entire class by singing a song and performing for another class.

Take time to reflect early in the school year on your classroom management.  Not too soft.  Not too hard.  Just right.  Just you.

Here’s a collection of classroom management tools that you might consider using this year:

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