Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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!
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