Thursday, December 29, 2016

Managing Discipline in the Middle School Classroom

I have been teaching for 5 years now . I've had anywhere between 120-150 students per school year, 6 classes per year. Each of those years, each of those classes have had a different personality. It feels like I'm constantly struggling to reinvent the wheel when it comes to my classroom management.

I have been done it all. I've given them freedoms, revoked those freedoms, I've started off strict and then loosened up. I've started off friendly and nice and gotten mean. I've yelled. I've called home to parents, referred them to counselors, I've had one-on-one meetings with them about choices, lunch detentions, after school detentions, referrals, everything.

I've talked to teachers with 30+ years of experience, scrounged Pinterest for ideas. Incentives, consequences, positive reinforcements, free days, textbook days.


I feel like no matter how many years of classroom teaching experience I get, managing behavior is going to be something everyone struggles with, unless they're some kind of wizard. The nature of the kids is constantly changing, because their expectations are changing. The way their parents set examples for them changes.

Our President-Elect sets the example that to be a bully is to be presidential. To insult people based on the way the look is to be presidential. So how can we expect our children to not follow by the example their are given?

Working with students who are between 11-14 years old is TOUGH. These kids are still struggling to figure our where they fit in their world. They've just learned how to push boundaries and are wanting to experiment to find out just how much they can do.

I work with 7th graders. The middle children. They're no longer bright and shiny 6th graders, still scared of their brand new environment, running to get from class to class, believing every single empty threat their teachers tell them. They're not yet top dog 8th graders, above it all, bored and ready to leave to high school. 7th graders are a unique group of kids because they are in the middle of the middle, and figuring out what they can get away with.

In a world where digital everything rules, this is a more accessible approach to paper documentation. It does require some set-up, but as soon as I pick these little notepads up, a hush falls over the room.

These are a variation of my campuses official Discipline Documentation Forms, just condensed, user-friendly, and easier to understand. They're technically the same thing.

So, on yellow paper, I print the warning. The message conveyed here is "I've already warned you to stop doing what you're doing, you've kept it up so you're getting an official warning. Continue and you'll get a DDF and detention/call home". I keep them both near me and if a class is being particularly unruly, I'll carry them around in my hands. Both require the student to fill out their offense and turn in to me, where I keep them stored.

For my classes, the yellow warnings reset every day, the red ones accrue over a 6 weeks period. 4 red ones will result in an Office Referral. On the back I write detailed explanation of what happened when I have time.

I print 4 copies per page, then cut them using a paper cutter, line up the edges, clip them with binder clips, and add Elmer's liquid glue and let them sit for a day. Once the glue is dry, they're little notepads. Check out my tutorial here.

To download my template for both forms, visit my TpT store here.