Teaching middle school students can be tricky and I found out that getting off on the right foot the first day of school was paramount! I discovered early on that if the students knew I was in charge from the first moment they walked into my class I was going to have a great year. Here is how I started out the year in each of my middle school classes.
I found in teaching language arts that students worked better if they had their own desks rather than tables. That is just a preference of mine, I know many successful teachers that love using table and groups.
First, I made a seating chart for each class using the following criteria:
- I took the alphabetized class list and re-alphabetized it so it was boy, girl, boy, girl
- I made sure no ethnic names were together
Then when the students entered my class for the first time I had the students stand around the back of the room and I asked them to sit down one by one according to my new seating chart.
Next, I explained that this was where they would be sitting throughout the year. I also made it clear I was not inclined to move students around unless I decided it was necessary, so to please not ask if they could change seats.
Finally, I know this sounds harsh, but I would wait for one student to mess up and I would quickly call that student out. I would explain that that kind of behavior was not tolerated in my class, that I did not my degree in babysitting, and I did not expect to spend any of my time disciplining students that did not know how to behave. Then I would end by lightening it up and saying, “You now know that you do not want to open a can of Darling!” The students would laugh, but they knew where I stood on discipline and what my classroom behavioral expectations were.
I’m not saying it would work for everyone, all I’m saying is that it worked very successfully for me and I’m sharing in case anyone needs a new way to start out their year.