The third week of school!

So… In the third week of school with middle school children, you are likely to experience those children who seem to forget what your rules are.  This is a critical time for you.  You will have to live with the results of your action or inaction all year long.

It is time to follow through.  

Execute the rules that you stated in that first week.  For example, if they ask you to go to the bathroom at a time that is not okay, then you must say no and remind them that they must go between classes or whatever it is that you have told them.  Then, at a time that is not embarrassing in any way to the child who "forgot" the rules, you should remind the class what the rule is.  If you allow the child who "forgot" the rule about the bathroom to actually go to the bathroom, you will have that problem all year long.  … With many, many children.  That problem will take over your room like a bad weed in a beautiful garden.  

Of course… There are emergencies that we must be able to recognize.   As a young teacher, this was not always easy for me.   We must use our careful, sound, adult judgment.   

New product posted! Just posted Lesson 2 of S-Cubed! Working on Lesson 3 right now. Planning to post it later this week.

Second week of school....and.... Classroom Management #4...Middle School

.....what structures do you have in place to make sure that your Middle School children have the support they need to thrive? In my video entries, I've mentioned how important it is to recognize and reward the behaviors we want to see. I have also talked about how, sometimes, children are talking or misbehaving because we haven't been clear with our instructions, or we haven't taught the material in a way they understand and enjoy. However, when push comes to shove, we need a sound approach place with which we follow through swiftly, consistently and clearly because, let's face it, some middle school children aren't going to choose the right path. It is our job to do our best to help them find their way. Let's say the child is disruptive in your class. They shouldn't be, of course. We all know that, but some of them will be. ...and what will you do? How will you handle it? In the next several entries, I will share some of the things I do that have worked for me. With up to 84 children in one classroom, I've had to figure some things out that have helped me have success while maintaining the dignity of the children. My first suggestion, always, is to work with the child directly. Build your relationships with them. Don't just "write it up". It'll get sent back anyway if you haven't made prior efforts with the children. Never humiliate. Never confront. When a child is confronted in the classroom in front of his peers, he is going to go to battle with you, and you will not come out smelling like a rose. It's the perfect stage, really! ...So don't build it for them! Always treat the children respectfully no matter how they treat you. If you do so, you will disarm them at times they can't possibly expect because almost every child I've met in my 22 years of teaching this age group responds to respectful treatment in a positive way. They want to feel valued...always.... Remember the adage: Children don't care how much you know until the know how much you care. Perfect adage for middle school children...especially children who struggle with behavior. So, connect to the children who are struggling with behavior. Find ways to bond with them. Give them responsibilities in the classroom. Help them feel special. Ask them how they are doing. Reward them with attention when they do the right thing. When they misbehave, go near them physically, but don't make it obvious. Give them quiet cues that give them a chance to realize that you are standing there because they are off task or talking or otherwise inattentive. If they don't accept the cues, then quietly, so no other students hear you, find a way to ask them to stay after class so you can talk to them. When you talk to them, do so respectfully. Tell them, with non-judgmental language, why you've asked them to stay after class. Avoid saying things like "You gave me an attitude, why did you do that?" Instead, say things like, "When I asked you to answer the question, you rolled your eyes, popped your lips, and sat sideways in your chair with folded arms. How do you think that makes me feel?" Listen to the answer. Don't just lecture. Students this age don't respond to lectures. They tune you out, and you will lose them. On the next entry, I will share what I do when they don't respond to this approach. I hope your year is going well!

Recognizing and Rewarding Positive Behaviors in our Students

Copy and paste this YouTube link into your browser! We all want to be recognized when we are doing good work! In the video link above, I share one of the ways I do it. The kids love it, and it helps tremendously with classroom management at the beginning of class when I have over 80 children in the room! Have a great day!

It worked!

Yesterday on my video I shared with you how I was dealing with some talkative sixth-graders, and I am here to report that my plan worked!  Today the girls were awesome!  Also today, I went over some more rules and consequences. I tried to use the lightest most fun tone possible while still being clear with my points so that they would understand how things work.  I used comedy whenever I could in order to drive home major areas of importance.  

One of my philosophies is to be fun but firm.  I believe that we have to help children want to work with us.  I think my mother used to say it best… You get more bees with honey than vinegar.  :)

I hope your day was great with your middle school children!

Classroom Management #2 In this short video clip on YouTube, Mr D describes what is happening with his 6th graders on the 3rd day of school and how he is handling it.

Just posted Lesson 1 of S-Cubed!  Check it out!

Establishing 2

It's the second day of school! It's important to establish routines and structure!    This is the written assignment students will do as soon as they walk in my classroom today!

Classroom Management #1....Being Clear and Meeting the students where they are!

Classroom Management is probably the single biggest struggle for Middle School teachers.  It takes years to figure out what works best for each of us as individual teachers in the classroom.  I struggled enormously in the early years, and I beat myself up over it.  I wasted a lot of energy, and I did a lot of ineffective yelling.  I've learned some stuff along the way that has helped me be able to manage 84 children in one classroom and over 300 students at a concert....but it took me a long time to figure it out.  I never could have done that during the early years.  So, today, I am going to start sharing a few of the key things that have helped me.
I want to touch on an important aspect of classroom management that I think a lot of us forget.

We must remember that when this age group is confused, they often behave badly.  They do it out of frustration.  They do it to impress their peers.  They do it for a variety of other reasons. 

Perhaps they shouldn’t. Perhaps they know better, and they do it anyway.  Perhaps they don’t know better and their parents should have taught them better.  Whatever….All of that is irrelevant, and thinking about it stands in the way of what we really need….A structured, fun classroom where learning easily happens and one to which the students look forward to coming back the next day.

It is our job to recognize the times when our students are behaving poorly simply because we haven’t been clear. 
When we give out instructions on an activity, for example, we must make sure our instructions are easy to understand for the age group we teach.  By doing so, we eliminate so many discipline problems from ever occurring, and it makes our classrooms a much more pleasant place to learn.  I have seen so many great activities turn into a fiasco when instructions for the activity were not delivered well and appropriately for the age group.


What if we have been clear in our instructions on an activity, for example, but they are still behaving poorly?   Maybe the material we handed out to them made absolutely no sense to them at all.  For example, if we are a math teacher, and we are trying to teach Algebra, but many of the children don’t even understand how to multiply yet……

In that situation, we have two choices: 

1)       We can complain that they don’t know how to multiply or that the administration grouped    the children poorly, keep teaching Algebra, and continue dealing with bad behavior that is the result of the fact the children don't understand.

2)      …or we can creatively determine ways to teach them how to multiply and work toward catching them up.  In doing so, we are showing that we care enough to meet them where they are and help them. 

It took me a few years to figure this one out, but ultimately, I chose the latter, and I have found that once I get them through the information they should have already learned, they are willing and ready and excited to learn the new stuff.

I truly believe middle school children want to learn. They want to be successful.  We have to be able to recognize the signs that they don’t understand the material, and we have to help them “get it” using their learning modality…whatever that is…We have to find it.  It’s our job. 

When we do, there is less chaos, and everyone is happier in the room.  The teacher AND the students are less frustrated resulting in fewer discipline problems and a better relationship with your students.

They will behave better. They will learn more.  We will enjoy teaching more!
Here is my YouTube link that contains the story of my first year teaching when I began to realize that my students were behaving badly many days, in large part, because I hadn't followed the advice I gave above in this post:

Value and Respect

Value and Respect....
Two absolutely critical ingredients for any human relationship.   When those two things aren't present, the relationship breaks down....and that includes the relationship between a teacher and his/her students.

I teach over 300 children every day.  I can have over 80 in one classroom at one time.  With those kinds of numbers, I need all the help I can get!  So, I learned early on that the children aren't going to respect me just because I am the adult in the room....not in Middle School....whether they should or shouldn't is irrelevant.  Whether their parents should have taught them (they probably did!) has nothing to do with your reality in that classroom day in and day out.  What matters is how you manage to help the students to work WITH you and not AGAINST you.  I watch so many teachers fight against their students.  I watch power struggle after power struggle which does nothing but cause gray hair for the teacher, and it keeps learning from occurring.

When we show respect, value and caring for the students, they give it back to us 10 fold....especially at this age.  They will work with us in ways we couldn't possibly imagine when we show them that we will listen to them and that we care about them.

Show your children you care from the very first day of school.

Here is the link to my quick story about one of the many ways I learned how important it was to show that I value and respect my students.

Back to School!

School starts on Monday!  EEEEEEK!  I am very excited about this upcoming year.  I enjoy meeting the new students and getting to know them.  It's a crazy time for all of us, of course, but it sure is exciting! help us all start off the year with the magic middle school recipe of some structure mixed with some fun, I just offered my first paid product on Teacher Pay Teachers!  It is designed especially for Middle School Teachers on the very first day of school.  Check it out!  Please follow me on TPT!

Soon, I will do another video and share another disturbing story from my first couple of years of teaching!  I survived those early years, and so can you!  In fact, we can thrive!

Here is the link to my new product:

Thanks and have a great weekend!

Mr D!