A challenging class can make teaching feel like it brings far more stress than joy, but that doesn’t have to be the case! As a teacher, you have a lot of ways you can turn even the most challenging class into a productive one. Just as you tell your students that every day is a new day to turn things around, you have that option as a teacher as well! I’ve found the easiest way to avoid chaos and interruptions in the classroom is to stop them before they start. I know that is much easier said than done! If you have a challenging class, it is vitally important that you create an environment of mutual respect and focus the instant they enter your room. I have a blog post that explains the steps I take after a particularly difficult day when I know I need to revisit my classroom management strategy. One of my most effective classroom management strategies as a middle school teacher is to start every class out strong!
Classroom Management is easier when the kids know you care
(I know this tip isn’t directly tied to the start of class, but there is nothing more critical to a successful classroom management strategy than building positive relationships with your students, which is why I’m listing it first.)
Sometimes it can be hard to maintain your composure when dealing with middle schoolers, but try to remember that their brain hasn’t fully developed yet. They will act childish sometimes because they’re still children. The good thing about this age is that they are capable of being reasonable, so I’ve always found it is helpful to explain why specific rules exist. Explain the reasons behind certain consequences and that your ultimate goal is to make sure that they learn every day. You became a teacher because you care about kids, so make sure your students know that. You’ll be surprised by the difference you’ll see in some student’s behavior when they know that you are on their side. This doesn’t always mean they’ll be perfect, of course, but it will help dramatically. Use the time you have at the start of class to build those relationships by checking in with students!
Classroom Management Starts As soon as they enter your room (And maybe even a few minutes before)
I highly recommend making a habit of starting your class in the calmest and most orderly way possible. If you’re trying to bounce back from a challenging day, then I encourage you to have students come into your room and go directly to their assigned seats while remaining completely silent. I will often have a firm (but kind) message on the board that gives a brief overview of why I’m starting class out this way. Sometimes I will even go and address them in the hallway before they enter the room. If they are unable to fulfill the request the first time, then kindly (but firmly) ask them to go back in the hallway and try again. If you have a particularly challenging class, then I encourage you to have students walk in silently and orderly every day until they become used to your routines and expectations. In order for this to be effective, it is very important that you explain that the reason you’re having your students do this is because you want to create an environment that makes learning easier.
Classroom management is easier when the students have something to do at the start of class
I would never consider starting my class without something the kids can work on independently. This makes my life easier because during this time I can take attendance and address any possible distractions before they became a disruption. I’ve used various assignments and activities, but I’ve had a lot of success starting class with my Daily Reading Comprehension Passages. I have a variety of passages, but my students have recently really enjoyed my fiction Daily Reading Passages. This twelve-week product tells the story of a student that starts at a new school while learning that his mom is involved in a mysterious society.
Teaching is a rewarding job, but dealing with challenging behaviors can take a lot of the fun out of it. Developing successful classroom management strategies can make your middle school classroom much easier to handle. Creating strong routines at the start of class will help prevent chaos and disruptions from happening.