Thursday, September 6, 2012

Classroom Management - Respectful and Effective

UPDATE: September 18, 2012
The blog post below was written and posted a couple of weeks ago, but it really meets the needs of "What the Teacher Wants" - especially at the middle school level. :)  I'm including this in a linky party with What the Teacher Wants in hopes that it may offer some insight and helpful resources for middle school.  Thank you for the opportunity to share!

One of my favorite things about teaching at the middle school level is the reaction I get from others when I share my profession.  The conversation often goes something like this:

My new acquaintance:  So, what it is that you do?
Me:  Well, I am a teacher.
My new acquaintance:  (in awe of my choice of such an honorable profession) That’s wonderful!  What grade do you teach?
Me: Oh, I teach at the middle school level - 7th and 8th grade ELA.  
My new acquaintance:  (with a stricken look that is either one of pity because that was my only choice, or confusion as to why that would be my choice)  Ohhh.  Well, that must be…interesting.

Yes.  Yes, it is interesting.  My classes of tweens and newly-turned teens are full of energy and excitement.  Of course, the excitement is not always related to academics.  The middle school years are ones filled with emotions.  These emotions are often pertaining to anything from the thrill of a new relationship to grief at the thought that last year’s friend is no longer this year’s friend.  Middle school aged children want to be independent, young adults…yet, they sometimes still crave the loving support of someone from home.  It’s a time when their peers become the centers of their universes and the desire to find a place to fit-in and be accepted somewhere becomes a priority.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts regarding classroom management.  Questions are being asked about class rules and policies.  How do we create them?  How do we display them?  These are great questions to ask as we start the new school year at any grade level.  That being said, I would like to take the conversation to the next step – an even more important step at the middle school level, when the previously mentioned emotions may be a factor in some poor decision making.  How do we consistently enforce our rules and policies while being sensitive to the needs of middle school students?  How do you as the classroom teacher find out why a student is acting out, correct the behavior and keep from disrupting the learning of the other students in your class at the same time?  Well, if your magic wand is broken, I may have an answer for you!

 Let’s Stop and Think – I've used this in my classroom and have found it to be a very useful tool.  Just make several copies of this form and have them in a folder on a desk to the side of the room.  According to the class rules that you have in place, if a student makes a poor choice and has been warned, this may be your next step. 

     I really dislike sending students to the office, especially when that means they will be losing seat time in class.  I want them with me, even if they are just hearing the content that is being discussed.  When I feel a behavior has warranted the “next step,” I motion for the student to go to the desk.  From the first day my students know that this is a time to "Stop and Think," and they only bring a pen or pencil with them.  They fill out the form, having a chance to reflect on the choice that was made, the reason for that choice and what could be done differently to turn it around.  Once the rest of the class is engaged in an activity, and when I am ready, I can go take a look at what was written.  
     Sometimes what seems like a blatant disregard for rules is really a misunderstanding or an action made out of frustration that has nothing to do with your class.  A teacher doesn’t know this unless the student shares.  This form serves that purpose, as well as giving the student time to reflect and refocus.  When and if the student joins the class again is up to you, but at least if he or she is not disruptive, and the student isn’t missing everything by being sent out of the room.  Once signed and dated, this can go in the student’s file (I like to have a file for each student right from the first day.) so that if a meeting or conference comes up in the future, you have some great anecdotal notes – in the student’s own words – to share. 

     Please feel free to click on the link above to get a copy of Let's Stop and Think.  I have found this opportunity for students to reflect on their behavior and have a chance to take the responsibility to correct it very helpful.  If you find this useful, you may want to visit my online store as well.  This form is actually part of a larger Classroom Management Kit I've made which includes three other forms and tips on how to use them. Please consider sharing any ideas and tips that you may have for classroom discipline - as we all know the "honeymoon" will soon be over. :)


  1. Thank you for sharing. I've been looking for something like this to use in my classroom.

  2. Thanks for sharing, I have an extra desk up in the corner of my room - that would be a perfect place to try this idea out.


    1. So glad that this may be useful in your classroom, Missy! Thank you for checking it out.


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