New 6th grade teacher seeking tips....

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by bigcat, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. bigcat

    bigcat Rookie

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    Jun 30, 2007

    Hi...I'm teaching 6th grade, and middle school for that matter...for the 1st time. I'm a bit nervous. I would love some tips on classroom management. I'm not sure how to go about changing classes. So any thing you can pass on will be very helpful. I thank you in advance.
     
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  3. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Jul 1, 2007

    Welcome to the most fabulous age in middle school! (Not that I'm biased or anything! ;) )

    Give us a little more background and I'm sure we can offer you more advice than you can shake a stick at. What will you be teaching? Will you be on a team? How are your classrooms configured? (on a hallway or a pod, or something else?)
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 1, 2007

    HI and welcome!!

    Don't let them intimidate you... in the final analysis, they're still kids. They have a curfew, are limited to G rated movies, and have to ask mommy if they can have a snack before dinner. They're a delight to work with!
     
  5. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Jul 1, 2007

    My advice is to document EVERYTHING. When you enforce a consequence, note it. When you call a parent, note it. When you don't get an assignment from a student, note it (or better yet, have the kid write out that they didn't turn it it, save it, and show it to parents when necessary).

    I only taught 6th grade for one year before changing to 7th, but I learned quickly that documentation will serve you well.
     
  6. Mrs.Gould

    Mrs.Gould Comrade

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    Jul 1, 2007

    I LOVE 6th grade! I taught it for a year 2 years ago and I'm starting back in 6th this fall. This year will be different for me because I will mostly have a self-contained room where my class will only switch for Social Studies (so I will teach 2 sciences). My best advice is to REALLY enforce the rules right from the beginning. Do not let down at all because they will see your weakness and pounce on it. Once you've gotten their respect, you can have fun with them, but still hold your guard. I was able to develop a great relationship with all 5 of my classes that I had at my old school. Another tip when you're dealing with switching classes is to have a bell ringer. It's tough to get kids to settle down when they pass all their friends in the hallway for just a couple minutes. I taught English so I had them to a quick 3-5 min "Daily Language Review" to get them settled. It worked great and I didn't lose much needed time at all! Good luck! I hope you love 6th as much as I do!
     
  7. jojo808

    jojo808 Comrade

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    Jul 1, 2007

    Hi, I'll be teaching 6th grade as well. I taught 4th grade for the past 4 years. I need some management and organization tips. I'll have 5 periods of Language Arts, about 135 kids! How do you manage the different classes? Each class is only 45 minutes. How do you plan the period? THANKS!
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 1, 2007

    Well, for starters, you color code them: 1st period red, 2nd purple... Have a vertical file on your desk with folders of each color-- it's your "out" box. Have another set in your briefcase-- that's where you put any papers you've graded at home until you can transfer them into the file at school. Each time you give a worksheet or anything, you place one in the appropriate file for each absent student. It's a little system, but it does wonders for the organization.

    Since I'm math, I'll defer to others on how to plan the periods!
     
  9. jojo808

    jojo808 Comrade

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    Jul 1, 2007

    Thanks Alice, great idea!
     
  10. bigcat

    bigcat Rookie

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    Jul 2, 2007

    Great ideas, thanks so much. I will have 4 LA classes...including Reading...each class is 55 minutes. Not sure how that will work...I haven't had a chance to talk to the principal (she's out of town until next week) and can't get into my room. I will have maybe 80 kids at the most. I'm happy that the student load is smaller this year since it's my first year with Middle School. I have a couple of first day ideas that I'm considering......but I sure could use some good tried and true ideas. You guys are great!!!!!
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 2, 2007

    Wow, 80 kids!!! This year I had 180 :)

    My school is a Jr/Sr High school, so things may work a bit differently as far as the mechanics go. But kids are basically kids, so I think the classroom management things probably apply across the board:

    Kids this age react well to fairness and structure. They will notice the first time you cut a break to the smart kid up front that wasn't extended to the scary looking kid in the back. You need to go out of your way to be fair: to apply the rules across the board. Sure you can build in some exceptions, but they need to be built in. For example, my kids are allowed to miss and then make up (for full credit) 3 homeworks per marking period. If the class clown uses them the first 3 days, that's his perogative. But he has the same chances as the "smart" kid who wisely saves them for the days before a big science test.

    They appreciate humor, but not cutting humor. So my big joke this year was "now YOU'RE my favorite student" and it changed by the day. Mike was my favorite student until he forgot his homework, then Bridget was until she talked out without raising her hand, and so it went. It was good natured and even handed, and they got a kick out of it.

    They also have a huge respect for honesty. No student in the entire history of education has ever bought the line "I was just testing to see whether you were paying attention"-- when you make a mistake, you're much better off admitting it. Make sure they know to correct your error politely, but let them know you're human too.

    Let them know what the non-negotiables are. In my class, they're fire drills and cheating. I will not tolerate kidding around during a fire drill, and that's a big part of my first day speech. I don't care whether you're in my class or just in my line of vision: you WILL go to the dean if you're kidding around. They know that up front-- I'll work with them on almost any other issue.

    As to the first day, I'm not a big fan of getting-to-know-you type games. Given my student load, I'm not sure that anything I do that day will give me any real insight into the kids I'll be teaching all year. I do my 15 minute spiel on my expectations, then I TEACH for the rest of the period and assign homework. That, more than any other single thing I do, sets the tone for both academics and classroom management. They know that "this one means business" and I think it heads off a lot of trouble.
     
  12. bigcat

    bigcat Rookie

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    Jul 2, 2007

    Thanks Alice. You have been a big help. I love your "you are my favorite" idea...that sounds like something I would do. I am so glas that I can "joke" with this age group.....the younger ones don't get it that well. Thanks again...and if there is anything else....just send it my way.
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 2, 2007

    A sense of humour goes a long way with this age group--laugh with them, laugh at yourself, just don't laugh at them. They are very conscious of how others perceive them, and will react very negatively if they feel that they are being embarassed in front of their peers. It's important to remember that students this age are still "little kids" in a lot of ways; they aren't as grown-up as they pretend to be. Alice's advice about fairness is "bang-on"--the most common complaint you hear from students this age is, "That's not fair!". I love this age group--have fun!!!
     
  14. daisy8869

    daisy8869 Rookie

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    Jul 2, 2007

    I love all the tips, I'll be teaching 7th grade next year so I will definitely use the humor method. I'm a big clown in the classroom so I will use that to my advantage, but I will also set a mature tone with the rules and homework.
     
  15. daisy8869

    daisy8869 Rookie

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    Jul 2, 2007

    Alice,

    I've been meaning to ask you, with a 180 students last year, how did you remember names? I know that it is important to learn them early but with my estimates of 140-160 students for this coming year...I can use all the help I can get. :)
     
  16. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Jul 2, 2007

    One good method is for the first X number of days, whenever a student answers a question (or asks a question), have them tell you their name. They never get tired of saying their own names, and you learn best by repetition. Make sure you answer them by also using their name. Works for me, anyway!
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 3, 2007


    I am SOOO bad at names:eek: And this year, it seemed as though half the boys were named Nicholas or Anthony or Joseph!! And a set of identical twins-- same seat-- first and second period didn't help either! Then, of course, I picked up classes for another teacher on maternity leave for 2 months and had to learn all those names!!

    I do the "tell me your name each time you speak" thing for a while. But my big strides always come the first time I test them. I stare at them, seating chart in hand, and try to attach the name to the face. (And, yes, I warn them that it's why I'll be staring.) That helps a lot (except, of course, for the class that always gets interrupted by a fire drill on that first test day.)

    This year I'll have 4 regular classes of freshmen, and 6 more classes of Juniors I'll meet once a "cycle" (in theory one class a day for each day of our 6 day schedule.) Wish me luck!!!
     
  18. Cyndi23

    Cyndi23 Companion

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    Jul 3, 2007

    be consistent. The kids will know you are fair and what to expect. Make sure to explain why you do things the way that you do. Fairness is a huge deal at this age.

    Good luck!
     
  19. phoebe611

    phoebe611 Rookie

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    Jul 5, 2007

    I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has trouble remembering names!!! :)
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 6, 2007

    And one example of the name thing made absolutely no sense to me:

    Brendan was kind of tall, blonde and blue eyed. He sat in the back of 4th period.

    Jarrett was short and black. He sat in the front of 2nd period.

    Yet I consistently tried to call Brendan Jarrett.

    To the best of my knowledge I know no other Jarretts ('ve been out of the classroom for 6 years, so I certainly haven't know any lately.) It eventually became a big joke because it was such a dumb mistake. The two boys would kid me that it was an understandable mistake, since they looked "pretty much the same."

    But once I make a mistake like that, it haunts me the whole year. I always second guess myself on those kids.
     

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