Is this normal?

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by beach_bum, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. beach_bum

    beach_bum Rookie

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    Nov 6, 2008

    My seventh graders drive me up the wall every day with their behavior. Continual talking. Rudeness. Saying inappropriate things. Punching/hitting each other. Calling each other names. Whining like babies if they don't "get their way." Not the whole class. Maybe, half. Seventh grade. So, is this "normal?" I feel more like a baby-sitter. Thank you.
     
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  3. Ranchwife

    Ranchwife Companion

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    Nov 6, 2008

    Yes - but not acceptable. My seventh graders are mostly boys (50 boys and 20 girls) this year and they are an immature bunch who display most of the same behaviors you are dealing with. I suggest you create a list of classroom absolutes (no inappropriate language, no physical contact, no rude comments. etc.) and as soon as anyone violates those rules, give them a detention (or whatever your school uses as punishment) then have them call their parents and tell them why they have detention. Our school startes absolutes and we have very little behavior issues this year. Good luck!
     
  4. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

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    I understand how you feel. I'm a first yr teacher and I teach 6th and 7th. Luckily, my worst class is on the day I have prep time @ the end of the day!!! One thing that did the trick today for one student was calling home during the middle of class. After several wks of terrible behavior I had enough!
     
  5. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

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    A veteran teacher told me to call the parents during class and let the student speak to them. I also had a student leave a msg. @ hm for his mom. Sometimes it works and sometimes it might not. All, I know is that I feel like its a tug of war and I refuse to lose! Its a daily battle there are days that I am sooooo tired and exhausted! while other days are better. One 7th grade class the students levels range between extremely below level to gifted. Its hard trying to keep them on task. I've re-arranged seats hoping this will help lesson the chatter. Who knows?!? Anyway, good luck you are NOT alone! If you find anything that helps let me know and I'll do the same!

    Lee~~~
     
  6. beach_bum

    beach_bum Rookie

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    Nov 7, 2008

    Thank you for understanding.

    I have had some success trying to form relationships w/ students outside of the classroom, such as through playing sports w/ them after school. That definitely has helped make our time in class together feel more synergistic. It has not solved some basic problems, though, as mentioned. I generally try to make changes to the seating chart also, as you mentioned, and calling parents. Haven't tried during class. Hmmm... food for thought, thank you.
     
  7. Ross

    Ross Comrade

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    Nov 7, 2008

    There are enough students that do not act in this annoying way to know that they are not programed through DNA to have to be horrible. So the majority who do act badly have made a decision to be that way because the consequences are are not so unpleasant that they would avoid punishment at all costs. So they continue.

    I have offered to have the students who are in trouble spend the entire day with me, one on one, while I explain my philosophy of how students should behave, courtesy, work ethic, consideration for the sacrifices of those in the past, and thoughts for the future.

    But of course, I have been told, "Oh no, we can't do that to the students."

    I figured that would stop the students from every acting up so they would not have to spend time with me again. :haha:
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Ross, I like your philosophy. (Frankly, by the way, I wouldn't be adolescent again if given the choice. It's a painful time to be alive.)

    Ranchwife, can I come teach where you are?
     
  9. mrb1977

    mrb1977 Rookie

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    I have one group of sixth graders, and one group of seventh graders that have limited social skills. I have identified this creates many of the problems that arise during class. I have incorporated many Character Education lessons. I also showed the movie Remember the Titans to my seventh grade class. Prior to showing the movie, I gave the class a handout pertaining to acceptable social skills. During the movie they checked off the list the social skills being practiced in the movie on the handout. The second day consisted of the students writing or typing 10 positives and 10 negatives they witnessed in the movie. The third day of watching the movie I have the students write five positives they see in the movie that could improve their lives, five positives that would help the school environment, and five positives that would help the community in which they live. This assignment does take about four 40 minute classes that I stretch over a two week period. For the final assignment, I have the students create a power point presentation pertaining to what they learned about the movie. The message doesn't sink into all students but the majority can relate to the message.
     
  10. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    beach_bum - 7th graders are insane. It doesn't matter where you are, they hit 7th grade and completely turn into a different species. Fortunately, in 8th grade, they turn back into homo sapiens.

    The call during class is EXTREMELY effective... but some parents will argue that it is a form of public embarrassment. I send them out with a "Buddy List" filled with fun questions like "Why did you do this? What would have been a better choice? What will you do next time?" and then they have to sign it, right under the creed about good behavior.

    If they don't fill it out "properly" (no "I don't knows" allowed), they get detention and a call home.

    If they act up again, it come out of the filing cabinet... onto their desk... with a tiny, wee, whispered threat about reading it aloud to the class. Works every time.
     
  11. CanadianTeacher

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    My husband and I were just talking about this today. Parents and other adults are so quick to come to kids' rescue anytime consequences are imposed for inappropriate behaviour that it undermines anyone's efforts to achieve harmony and respect. Kids need to be made to feel that they, and they alone are accountable for their behaviour and it seems that no one is ever willing to make them fully accountable. When someone is, someone else gets in the way, saying it's damaging/unfair, etc.. to the kids.

    As far as calling home in class...I like this and I've talked to teachers who have done it. I never have but would like to try it some day. As far as it being a form of public embarrassment, if they are bold enough to draw attention to themselves with inappropriate behaviour, they should be brave enough to endure a public consequence. Once they cross the line, no one owes them anything more.

    Building relationships outside of class time...I agree that this is good and can be very effective, but I find myself less than willing when my time in class is such a struggle. The students I had last year respected me, took ownership of their behaviour when necessary and in return I was more than happy to go over and above for them any way I could and did many times. When students can't do what they are supposed to do out of common respect and courtesy, I find myself saying: "Why should I" to all the extras--it's just too draining and I'm not incined to give up more of myself for undeserving students. It may sound like a bad attitude, but I'm only human and I like to direct my personal time and energy into things that will pay off.
     
  12. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    Nov 15, 2008

    I have taught 7th graders for several years, and they all have their moments testing my patience. I do call parents in the middle of class, but I ask the student into the hallway and pull my cell out of my pocket in full view of the rest of the class. The conversation happens completely in the hallway, but the rest of the class knows what is happening.

    I do find going to activities students participate in as effective. I make a point of introducing myself to the adult leader of the activity and have a conversation with my student. Later, if they act up in class, I just mention how much I enjoyed meeting coach ____ (or Mr., Ms., Pastor, etc.) and wonder aloud if the would he/she be ok with their choices.
     
  13. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

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    As far as calling home in class...I like this and I've talked to teachers who have done it. I never have but would like to try it some day. As far as it being a form of public embarrassment, if they are bold enough to draw attention to themselves with inappropriate behavior, they should be brave enough to endure a public consequence. Once they cross the line, no one owes them anything more.


    I couldn't agree more. I was told this was an effective method by a vet. teacher and I did it with some success. If they can act up in front of everyone then being punished in front of their peers has not crossed the line. Whatever they did was done in front of others so punishment in front of others is a consequence. I can be disrespected by students constant chatter to the point that I have losed my voice, due to having to yell constantly; however, calling home in class is an embarrassment? I don't think so!!!! Students have begun to learn they hold ALL the power due to ill informed parents, the school boards, the state and federal gov, student advocates, the administrators etc. I never realized until I started teaching at least @ my school that I have very little support. I can't make my students come in during lunch time with their lunch and give me detention, there is no recess so I can't take that away, referrals are a joke! So the only time would be after school?? I don't think so!

    Building relationships outside of class time...I agree that this is good and can be very effective, but I find myself less than willing when my time in class is such a struggle.

    I agree!
     
  14. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    GradSTUDENT - you do have a very effective argument. I'm just cautioning everyone as to some of the effects. All it takes is one parent to b*tch, complain, go to the principal, argue that you aren't a good teacher because YOU can't control them (child's behavior instantly negated b/c of your attempts to discipline), and furthermore, look! you are stopping the class to make PHONE CALLS, what kind of a teacher are you anyway, oh and by the way... I'm going to the media with this.

    Can you tell this has happened to me?

    To be honest, I really like this method and often employed it (in the hallway). I had to stop because of one parent and one principal who was terrified of the media. Was ordered not to do it. All I'm saying is... watch out of the overboard parents.
     
  15. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Nov 16, 2008

    Seventh graders are insane. Their hormones are on overdrive, they're cocky and haven't learned self-control yet - it's normal, but it's also why I moved up to the high school! I love my seniors - they're almost people.
     
  16. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

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    Thanks for the heads up! Its too bad we are blamed when the same parents can't even control their children. As a new teacher I'm already sick of hearing poor classroom management! I'm not to blame for children who clearly are nutty and hormonal. The school I work at has failed to meet AYP in 4 yrs guess whats going to happen if they don't meet it this yr?? Even with that looming over heads you would think they would try to come up with ways to help teachers handle disciplinary issues...nope! cause then they can blame us as to why the children haven't learned anything!:dizzy: Thanks again for the heads up!
     
  17. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    I think I need to clear something up. I never stop class while I am instructing or facilitating a discussion. A disruptive child is timed out to another room. When the class is to the point where they are working on the classwork, then I call home. If the disruption occurs during work time, this is when a phone call will happen immediately.

    7th graders will do whatever it takes to save face in front of their peers. At that age, everything is about what others think of you. I feel that by embarassing them with a public phone call home only asks for them to escalate the situation, so that they may save face.

    Chebrutta - I am so sorry that happened to you. That must have been very frustrating!

    GradSTUDENT - It sounds like you are very frustrated, and 7th graders seem to have a special knack for finding the things that annoy us. I work at a school that did not meet AYP for 4 years, with "difficult" students, and "families who could not control their children." (FYI - we did make AYP the last two years.) Just remember that you do not know everything about those families. The phone calls home might help you learn some things. Try to ask them what they use that works with their child. They are the expert on them. Invite them into the class. It only takes one parent showing up to sit with their child for the rest of the class to get the message. I think you might be just venting, and all of us need that from time to time. I hope you are able to find some support.
     
  18. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

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    Fuzz....your right...I'm venting and thanks for listening and understanding. I'm exhausted and tired. Some days are better then others but the bad days really stink. My students are not aggressive or anything like that. I've worked in an alternative school so I know the difference. Believe me! But the constant chatter even when I'm lecturing and the attitude of not caring is what brings my spirits down. These kids don't have normal conversations with their buddy next to them, they want to have a conversation with their friend who is sitting accross the other end of the room and then they want to get up and move around....Its so odd....I've never seen anything like it. I have a former friend that would let her youngest child walk around while he ate...strange right? Even when he was a toddler....I imagine many of these children had very little boundaries if any. Just an idea? lol. anyway...thanks for the advice. Tomorrow WILL be better then Friday!
     
  19. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    I actually find this a really fun age to teach. I really don't like teaching kids any younger than 12, but at 12-13 they're increasing rapidly in cognative awareness and abstract reasoning but still too young to develop much cynicism about education. It seems much easier to manipulate class dynamics at this age, but is it ever essential to set the right tone from the start. You absolutely have to make it clear what is and isn't appropriate behaviour during learning time. Today I came to one grade 7 class (I teach both middle and high school) to find three kids wrestling on the floor outside the classroom. Yet, when the bell went they were all in their seats ready to go. Then, the moment I dismissed them for lunch after the bell went they snapped back into pandemonium mode again charging out of the classroom. It just seems like a really easy age group to get focused despite their natural tendency to act like monkeys if left to their own accord.
     
  20. cess80

    cess80 New Member

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    Yes, sounds like me :D
     
  21. Alisha

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    Haha I have seventh graders, too. I love them, but man they drive me nuts! This it completely normal. Whatever behavior plan you find that works make sure you STICK WITH IT! Consistency is key to these crazy kids :). (Of course in my case I have the "worst" to have ever passed through in like 20 years.....YAY haha. Oh well, I still enjoy them most days!)
     
  22. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

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    Alisha...Can I ask you a question? how do sound so happy teaching 7th graders? Send some of that joy this way...PLEASE:hugs:Your post actually made me smile because you sound so relaxed and happy! Wow, I want that to be me!!!
     
  23. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    It's not that I stopped class - a quiet "Please continue reading the story aloud; Johnny, you're next" while Trouble Maker A and I stepped outside, cell phone in pocket. Just a friendly warning about SOME PARENTS WHOSE CHILDREN COULD NOT POSSIBLY DO ANYTHING WRONG and the lengths they will go to to avoid their child being responsible for their actions.

    And yes, please... how ARE you so happy about 7th grade? I thought I was going to need a Xanax IV to make it through the year with them!:help: j/k, but they were a freaking handful!
     
  24. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

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    That's ok about the Xanax. I have a glass of wine during the evenings! Sad but I have about 5 troublemakers in my worst class. I'm trying to win them over but its hell. A lot of my students need a lot of attention and its hard as hell when my class is 32students...:dizzy:
     
  25. Alisha

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    Hahah They are a handful! I can tell you if you asked me if I am happy about it after my 7th hour class I might not always yes I am (The are insane!!). I just go with the flow of their craziness I guess. I love the strange comments they say. When they drive me crazy I vent about it to someone and get over it. I mostly just try to remember the funny/nice things they do. I don't always like them, but I do usually love them!

    Today during the second half of the day I did not like them. New student. I asked the kids, "Why in the world are you guys so off the walls today." The kids told me, "It's new dude day. We're always crazy on new dude day." LOL. What?!
     
  26. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    7th graders are fun! I think part of it is finding ways to engage and harness their crazy socialness for good instead of evil. There can still find excitement in different lessons. They also don't have the jaded attitude that they do know everything. 7th graders are just learning how to project that attitude. Today, my classes were excited about melting ice cubes. Yes, you read that correctly melting ice cubes[/I]. Cracked me up.
     
  27. Alisha

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    I love how excited they get about the stupidest projects and assignments! Things that I think, "Oh, they're going to hate this one," they just love.
     
  28. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Ok, time for funny/ extremely weird 7th grade story. I was sitting at a desk in the middle of the room, reading "Ransom of Red Chief" to them. I picked this story because I thought they would love a really obnoxious child overcoming a difficult situation and relate to him (I totally had the SRO come in and do a serious "What To Do If You Are Ever Kidnapped" talk with them afterwards).

    The language was a leeetle hard, but we perservered. They dug it. They laughed appropriately. They got into the spirit of ass0kicking, rock-throwing, and other general things kids would like to do, but know they shouldn't.

    And then tiny 7th grade boy A got up from behind me, crept oh so silently towards me, leaned over and.... blew gently in my ear. :eek:

    WTF??!! I mean, really, how do you deal with such a thing?

    I told him (while failing miserably at not laughing my ass off) that it was inappropriate behavior and I would have to send him to the APs office.

    And when I went to speak to the AP about it, I was laughing so hard I was CRYING and thanking God I had on water-proof mascara, and tried to ask him if that constituted SEXUAL HARASSMENT and exactly what in the hell did I write on a referral/detention, and OMG... what if I need to explain to his PARENTS what happened?

    He said he would take care of it and call it inappropriate behavior is general, vague terms, and would call the parents, which totally wasn't fair to him, since he was laughing his ass off, too.

    So, 7th graders? Really, really weird. Just... weird. Like Twilight Zone-y. This became the topic for the rest of the year. Like "Hey Miss, remember when that kid blew in your ear to try and turn you on?"

    Ew.
     
  29. brucemc777

    brucemc777 New Member

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    I am new to teaching (other than having four daughters, ages 6 through 12), and worse yet (as to experience) a sub, trying to see if I can hack it and then get certified, but in that, I am here with a very current "just a parent" perspective.

    If out of the blue I got a call from one of my daughters as described, I would be reacting two ways - knowing that discipline needed to be enacted and encouraged, and a bit surprised at the means. But if among the sheets I need to periodically sign and return to teachers was a policy statement advising me that this is one means of classroom behavior instruction explaining when, why and that it would be done when deemed necessary, I would lose that second part and be rather enthusiastic about enforcing the first. When I signed that sheet was my opportunity to discuss it with the teacher and/or admin.

    As to the concept of "public humiliation", there is nothing you can do that is not public, other than allowing the class to go haywire and secretly talking to each student when no one else can see you doing so. Just giving detention or even telling one to shut the heck up, although be it in a nicer way (sometimes) is public.

    I am still trying to get a better grip on classroom control. I sit in on regular teacher's classes to see how they handle the kids, but I note a real difference between established control with a regular teacher and the student's guerrilla tactics when a sub is in.

    As to the call "home", many, if not most, of the parents in my area both work, and I suspect this is not unusual. Do you folks trust the troublemaker to actually call a parent where ever the parent might be (I wouldn't be surprised if the more "energetic" students are also the more imaginative, and might call directory assistance or some such number!)? I see that the same tactic is used in a number of classrooms I have been in, even some have scripts for the student calling home to read posted over the phones!

    Oh, and chebrutta, what can I say... maybe he simply saw what he thought to be a bug about to land on your ear and was deeply concerned for your well being?
     
  30. Alisha

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    They are twilight zone weird for sure. They don't just live in their world, it's their own universe.

    One of them RIGHT NOW, as I was typing this (I have kids in lunch detention right now) just said, "May I bribe you to get out of detention." I, of course said no and kept doing what I was doing. He then asked, "Do you need 2 dollars for anything." LOL.
     
  31. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    If I had a dollar for every kid who tried to bribe me... wait a second, that didn't come out right. :rolleyes:
     
  32. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    That is so true. Another fun way to keep them engaged when doing potentially repetative or tedious tasks that might get them down is to choose an emotion / attitude / personality that will go with the activity. You can choose attributes like happy, sad, angry, stupid, confused, crazy, psycho, or even boring. This works really well for reading a paragraph, asking or answering questions, describing something - all sorts of stuff. If you're doing a Q & A choose two emotions, one for you and one for the students. Perhaps the students could be angry and you could be stupid. You ask questions with your best Southern yokel voice and the students respond to each question with a really angry tone.

    This works really well to 'break up' a lesson when a teacher teaching with the same style, approach, and personally is just a bit too much for 12-13-year-old to take in for a whole hour or so day after day. It also allows for role-reversals of the usual teacher-student dynamic in the case of control freaks like me, with me acting all confused and the students acting all upset as they have to explain the simplist things about some matter (that's actually geared towards reaching the lowest level students without the higher-level ones losing interest).
     
  33. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    I have a 7th grade boy that is a bit of a smartass this year. The first day of school we were going over rules and expectations. I asked him to do something, and he said, "Yes, master." I told him that I am not his master, slavery, even for children, in the U.S. was outlawed a long time ago, but he may call me Your Highness. He still answers with "Yes, your highness." Doesn't phase me or the students at all, but any other staff person it always makes them stop dead in their tracks when they overhear it.
     
  34. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I ADORE 7th grade. They are my absolute favorite grade to teach :). They're inquisitive, eager, and a barrel of laughs. They're fun to teach because they are just starting to appriciate "grown up" things, yet still enjoy "kid" things.

    One thing to keep in mind is that they're in a "between" stage. I liken it to the "terrible two's", only now it's the "terrible twelves" (or thirteens). A two year old is in the transition from baby to small child. He's discovering the world, with all it's sights, smells and tastes. He's learning to communicate his needs, but sometimes his brain is working faster than his body's ability to perform. 7th graders are EXACTLY the same way, only now they're transitioning from childhood to young adulthood. They're now trying to figure out their place in the world, and learn how to communicate their needs and desires on a different level. They're discovering who they are and what they want to be. The problem comes in when their minds are working faster than their physical ability to produce what their minds dream up, or they're constrained by age, prevented from acting on all these great ideas RIGHT NOW.

    7th graders want to be treated more maturely, but often lack the maturity to handle it, or even know what that means. They have all kinds of ideas, even if some are WAY out there. Sit back and listen to them, they'll suprise you in how creative and insightful they can be if given a chance. A funny thing happens after that....when you listen to them, they listen to you.


    Back to the OP...consitency is the key. Figure out what works FOR YOU (not for me), and apply it without fail. If you're inconsistent, or trying to implement a behavior management system you're just not comfortable with, they'll eat you alive. They can spot a fake from 10 miles away and have no trouble flaunting it. Enjoy your kids....this is a great age. There's nothing better than being able to watch these "little kids" turn into "almost adults" in the space of a year or so.
     
  35. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    Nov 18, 2008

    Those are all things I've noticed as well. In some ways I consider them to be intellectual toddlers. Classroom emotions can be instantly contagious and everything in life is such a big deal. They're also capable of learning and remembering an enormous amount very quickly in ways that older or younger children can't. I've taught a number of the same students from grade 7 to grades 9 or 10 and grade 7's definitely a much more magical time, even though I do tend to prefer a calm, attentive high school class.
     
  36. Alisha

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    Hehe....crazy kids.
     
  37. AF Mom

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    Nov 20, 2008

    I have taught 7th graders for 16 years and every year I am still amazed at what they can say or do. Some are so sweet and others are so sour. I am always told that is takes a special person to teach middle school kids and I agree. I think MS teachers remember what is was like for them as a MS student, and knows how the kids are feeling-most of the time-and how to deal with them. My kids this year are some of the nicest, sweetest, and craziest that I have had in a long time. They surprise me constantly and keep me on my toes and young. Good luck with your classes and remember tomorrow will be a better day.
     
  38. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Nov 20, 2008

    Middle School is MUCH more fun the second time around :D
     
  39. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    Nov 20, 2008

    I absolutely agree!!!
     
  40. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

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    Nov 20, 2008


    This is a great idea! Could you possibly share what type of questions were on your check list? I'm trying EVERYTHING to get them to understand their behavior is not appropriate. Remember the Titans is a great movie and I think most of them will like it.
     
  41. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    Nov 24, 2008

    I don't really buy into the idea of having to teach them in tedious detail what is and isn't 'appropriate' behaviour. By the time kids are 12 years old they've had at least seven teachers and do you think that none of them have ever taught them how they’re supposed to act in a classroom when it's learning time? They didn't enter your class having been raised by wolves, as much as they might give you that impression sometimes. Do they really need to be told that when the teacher is in the classroom and has started the lesson that it's inappropriate to throw things across the room, hit their friends, give a classmate the middle finger, play with digital toys, call people rude names, use swear words, pass notes, and all the other things some of them will most certainly do *if* they think they can get away with it?

    They're not ignorant of what is and isn't an appropriate way to behave; they're testing you to see if you have an appropriate way of dealing with it. They can smell a fake from a mile away and won't have the time of day for you if they think you're not properly prepared. The only way to get around this is experience, preparation, and strong support from your school. Now, they might need to be reminded of what behaviour is still expected when you're attempting to employ methods they may not be used to (e.g. student-centred activities that may be different from the traditional teaching they're used to). But if they're disruptive to the point of preventing others from learning and creating a poor learning environment, it's not that they don't know better.
     

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