By Teachers, For Teachers
Effective teachers try and use classroom management techniques to build a classroom that is conducive to teaching and learning. They try and anticipate the needs and wants of all of their students, as well as anything unexpected that may occur.
A classroom should run like a well-oiled machine, so a structured classroom is essential. In order for your classroom to operate without much interruption, and where your students are able to manage themselves, follow these classroom management steps.
First things first, plan ahead. Think about the needs and wants of your students and try and anticipate what that will look like in your classroom. If you are teaching five or six classes a day, that’s about 150 students coming in and out of your classroom each and every day! Visualize or draw a sketch of what you want your classroom to look like, and how it will run. The last thing you want to do is not be able to set it up like you want because you run out of space.
With more than 150 students coming in and out of your classroom you will need to designate a place for them to keep their work, as well as hand in their work. Depending on how many classes that you teach, you will need that amount of baskets or shelves for students to hand in their work. Make sure that you label each basket the period that you have the students and color code them as well. If you plan on having students work on projects throughout the year, then you will also need an area for students to store their work. A large, free-standing, plastic shelf can work for big projects, or a plastic drawer organizer can work for smaller projects.
Although it is the students’ responsibility to come to class prepared with all of the needed school supplies (pencils, paper, scissors, glue, highlighter, etc.), you will still have those few students who forget their supplies. Instead of sending them to their lockers, you can create a space that will house extra supplies for the students to borrow. If you want to see your borrowed items returned back to you, then I suggest asking them to leave something of theirs on the supply table as a reminder that they must return what they had borrowed.
In middle school, when a student is absent from school, it is their responsibility to get the homework that they missed. Even if you have an online student portal where students can print out their homework, I still suggest having a special spot in your classroom where students can go and get a copy of what they missed. This way, you will never hear the excuse “My computer broke” or “I couldn’t log in.”
One of the big differences between an elementary school classroom and a middle school classroom is the decorations on the walls. In middle school, the decorations usually relate to the subject that is being taught in the classroom, as well as procedures and expectations that the teacher has for the students. Keep in mind that when posting related content on the walls to not just post generic commercial-made items, but student-made ones as well. Make sure the visuals offer key points to remember and are clear and concise in showing steps and procedures for students to follow. Students will thrive in an environment where it is clean and purposeful.
No matter the subject that you teach, there will be key terms that students need to learn. A word wall is a great visual representation of any content-specific words that you have in your curriculum. If you want to help your students recognize these key terms, then you must create a space for a word wall.
This is not a “time out” space like you would think of in an elementary classroom. A solitude space is a place where a student can go if she needs to be alone to help concentrate, re-take a test, or if she just needs a quick break. You can place a desk away from the others by placing a bookcase on the side of it to help minimize any distractions.
The seating arrangement is probably one of the most important things that you need to think about. Your desks or tables will need to be arranged depending on your style of teaching. If students will be mainly working in groups, then arranging the desks in clusters would be the way to go. If they will be mainly working independently, then classic rows is the way to arrange them. Once you have determined how your students will be learning throughout the school year, then you can start to arrange the seating accordingly.
Your classroom will constantly be changing and evolving. What may have worked for you earlier in the school year, may not work for you now. Your classroom will need some tweaking in order to be effective and efficient, and that’s OK. It’s all a process, and you will eventually find what works for you, and your classroom.
Do you have any tips or tricks that you would like to share about setting up a middle school classroom? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to learn from you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.