Revisting My Overarching Question
As I started my year in middle school, I knew that I would struggle with classroom management as I had been used to high school classroom management.
Starting my year, I incorporated much the same classroom management and standards that I did in high school. That was not the best idea. Middle Schoolers, as I found, respond much more to parent contact than they do to anything else. I tried connecting with them on a personal level by having them write notes and responding in turn to each one. I tried a behavior chart that they were rewarded for each week. I tried quiet signals, strikes, and names on the board for the trouble makers. I tried parent contact and finally, small tangible rewards. Throughout all of my mistakes and good ideas, I learned a great deal about how to deal with middle school students.
Every single day was a new surprise, whether it was the student themselves surprising me with their attitude, or the way they responded to various stimulants in class. It was surprising that stamps actually worked pretty well, while parent contact did not for some students. It was surprising that some kids responded well to positive texts home while others just didn't care about that.
The most surprising thing related to my CSTP's was that every student responded differently to the different consequences, but overall, the students loved most of all the positive phone calls home. i think this goes to show that all students want and need to be praised and they show that by appreciating and doing well when that's on the line as a good consequence.
As for surprising myself, I did find that my flexibility was the most surprising. As something didn't work, i would change what I was doing the next week. I adapted to what the students needed from me on a regular basis.
Beyond what I went through and accomplished through Induction, I want to continue to hone my classroom management skills. I don't believe that they are where I want them at this point so I will continue to work on that.
Another goal I have for myself is to learn more about the community in which my students live in so that I can make my content more accessible to them. I live about 30 minutes away and while I know my area pretty well, I need to drive around this city to learn about the area and better service my students. I know that being able to connect with my students and their area will be a big leg up in how I teach to this community.
Actions to Take Both Personally and Professionally
I will continue to research best classroom management strategies for middle school classrooms. I will become a better middle schooler by reading various articles or blogs from middle school teachers and implementing the new strategies. I will learn and grow as much as I can.
As far as learning the layout of the city, I will take one day a week to drive the area and figure out where everything is that the students talk about. I will get a good mental map of how the city looks and then be able to relate it to what we're learning in our class.
What can I do to keep my energy up?
The biggest thing to keep energy up with teaching is to practice self-care. I need to take time to myself to rejuvenate. Even if its just an afternoon where I don't grade or lesson plan.
I also need to practice affirmative statements and postive statements. I need to take one positive thing from every period each day and focus on the positives of each student instead of the negative.
I can also set my problems aside for just a little while. If my grading is building up or a student is being a problem, I need to step back and take a quick break.
Advice for New Teachers
Teaching is not for the feint of heart. Don't take what the kids do personally. These kids can be trying and they'll do it on purpose. It makes the job harder and, to be fair, it makes it harder to love them because you want to yell all the time. But, if you can get past the silliness that think they can get away with, they are the ones that need the most love and need you to love them the hardest. And it's worth it. Their insanity and goofiness and kindness is sometimes hard to see, but this job is so worth it in the end.