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Personal [Question]

Middle school help

Started on Oct 27, 2012 by Dcartteacher
Last post on Jul 15, 2013

This is my first year teaching middle school. I like it so far but I'm having a few problems. - what steps do you go through when a student isn't on task or is distracting other students? Warning? Detention? When do you hand out detentions?

5 Keeps, 1 Likes, 13 Comments

  • Dcartteacher 10/27/2012 at 05:34am
    - noise level in the classroom? How do you handle this?
    - reward systems - how have you created a reward system without spending a lot of money?

  • Dcartteacher 10/27/2012 at 05:41am
    Also I little back story. I am in a part of the building where there are no other teachers. I actually see no one. My "team" is the computer teacher and the gym teacher. I don't feel like they can answer the questions I have. I've gone to the staff dining room at lunch and no one is there. I guess I'm not part of the secret society.

  • RuthByrne 10/29/2012 at 08:45am
    It's hard being isolated like that. I was once in a basement hallway where the closest things were the maintenance closet and the bathroom.
    I teach elementary so my advice may not be suitable. My method is to give students a clear set of rules (Respect each other, art materials, and yourself) and we discuss what that means at the beginning of school.
    If a student is breaking any of those rules they get a personal warning, I go to them personally if I can and explain "I see you're talking a lot to Cindy, it is distracting both of you from your work which does not show respect to each other or your self. This is your first warning"
    Second offence: "I see that you're continuing to distract Cindy, you can take a five minute break from your work and think of how you can improve your behavior"
    Third offence: "You've been given two chances to improve the respect you show to me and your classmates. You now have to put away all your art supplies and( Choose one )fill out this think sheet/go to the principals office"

    The consequences for the third offence can be tailored to fit your district'c code of conduct/discipline policy.

    IF its the first time a student has gotten to "three" I usually have them fill out a think sheet (It asks them what they achieved during art today, what behaviors they need to improve and how they need to improve them) or have them take one home to fill out with their parents(again, it's elementary) or call home to discuss the behavior with the parents. AFter multiple "Three" offences I'll start asking the principal for assistance/send the kid down.

  • RuthByrne 10/29/2012 at 08:48am
    The Same rule of threes can be applied to noise level. Ask nicely once to turn down the volume, Ask a second time and refer to the consequences of not turning the volume down, ask a third time and implement the consequence.

    I used to have magnets A R T on the board to indicate which level they were on as a class. first warning the A comes down, second the know the drill.

    I'm sure there are better advisers on here for the middle school crew. please let us know what you try and how it works out!

  • artandsoul 10/29/2012 at 11:34am
    Hi..I teach high school, so we're somewhat comparable.
    As far as noise levels, it's art-there will always be some issues--tight deadlines help, and I do seating arrangement unless it's just a stellar class. I let them seat themselves for the first couple of weeks so I can get a handle on who shouldn't sit with who, then I do an arrangement. I try to make them somewhat happy, but I really diversify things to get them out of their comfort zone.
    As far as behavior--not being on task is one thing, distracting others is another. My classroom management is very good for a few simple reasons-I begin the year with structured procedures and expectations, I keep my expectations very high, and I encourage and show respect toward every student. And I make sure they understand this is my domain, my rules. Peace, kindness, art. They can cooperate and have a great year, or show out and have a miserable one. I generally leave the principal out of it. If it really comes down to it, I isolate the student, seat them close to me, with their back to the class, and I always talk about what I'm doing in positive terms. "You know, Joe, I feel that you're being distracted by the activity around you and it's impeding your progress. So I'm going to seat you over here at this special table..I really think it will help..I really want to see how that's going to turn out when you're finished." I'm pretty sarcastic, but also nice, so they can never tell-the wierd thing is this works awfully well most of the time.
    Give your distractions some attention. And some off-taskers just may never get on. But it's YOUR class, and if you act like it is, they'll act like it is.

  • RuthByrne 10/29/2012 at 01:02pm
    Love it Art&soul;. especially how you speak to the students. It's like you'e always giving them an opportunity to succeed at their artwork, which also sends the message: the art is what is important here.

  • FahmiKhan 11/05/2012 at 05:58pm
    I agree with artandsoul, I teach at a k-6. My one philosophy has been working quite well -I not only don't involve the principal, I also make it very clear to students that I do not call parents either. We have a long chat/discussion at beginning of school year. They are told all problems/situations will need to be handled by themselves, since they are not in kinder any more. Being a practicing artist, I explain the need to respect art as a livelihood besides a just for fun place to hang out. They are told about the class being a safe place for them and its their responsibility to keep it such. Of course there is always a few that will clown around or good off. I usually watch them VERY closely to see what makes them tick and approach accordingly.
    My latest was telling a most abnoxious, bad attitude, rude young lady (privately) "you have too pretty a smile to have such a bad attitude, art cannot be forced on someone. It is a passion, I love it, I like to teach it. This is an elective, and you chose to come here. Let me know if you want to enjoy being in my class-think about it and let me know"
    She's been quite an angel since then and smiles quite often. Of course things don't ALWAYS turn out the way you want...:))

  • artandsoul 11/14/2012 at 12:02pm
    Thanks Ruth! And FahmiKhan, this positive approach to problematic young people is what works for me too. That's great. It's been hard lately -- I have one quite difficult class (an advanced one at that!) full of students who couldn't care less, and have bad attitudes if looked at the wrong way. After about a month of killing myself, I lowered my expectations somewhat, and that has helped. I do not push too hard -- if they're diligent and want an A they'll work hard and get it. I've found with classes like this it's important to have smooth transitions and as little down time as possible.

  • ArtKat0508 11/28/2012 at 03:20pm
    I teach middle school, 430 students in a week. 12 classes that meet once a week and 6 that meet for three days (honors). It's very different than elementary school which I also taught.

    Organization is the key for me. I leave no down time and I keep good records for behavior issues. I started the year out with a positive set of class "rules" that I call our motto. I can do my best. I can listen. I can follow directions, I can be polite. I can be responsible. I have a short student teacher conference form that says Explain what happened and what can you do different in the future. I have codes that I put in the grade book to remind me of who has filled out a form and what it was for. Os - out of seat T-talking R disrespect TH throwing. S misuse of supplies. When I need to talk to the student (or parents) about a problem I can pull out all of the documents including their own written account of previous problems.

    I found it is very important to talk to students using positive statements like so how do you think we can solve this problem as well as treat everyone as an individual. It is easy to punish a whole group for the actions of a few.

    For noise level I often have the class give me 5 minutes of silence then with each noise I hear the 5 minutes starts over again. I haven't used this much since I started having students fill out conduct forms for talking to other tables, using a loud voice or unkind words.

  • joannemb 11/29/2012 at 03:31pm
    Artandsoul, your teaching style seems very similar to mine.... LOL at the sarcasm/but very nice combo....that is me to a tee :)
    One thing that I wanted to add that works really nicely with Middle School aged kids is having doing "10 off." This is 10 minutes of silent work time. Because it's only 10 minutes, students don't see it as a punishment...especially since I spin it as "Ok, we have a lot to do, let's buckle down for 10 minutes and really focus with a 10 off." The nice thing is, is that even after the 10 minutes are over, they are settled and into their work, and work much quieter for at least another 5 minutes. We know that in 40 minute periods, between introduction/demonstration/set up and clean up, some days you only have about 20 minutes of work time---so you end up with the majority of it as being quiet without it seeming to daunting for anyone. I only do it on days when we need it (or days when I have a headache LOL) but I think the kids really like it quite honestly. How to monitor it? Talking once and you are 'out' of our daily raffle for the jolly rancher at the end of class (I pick sticks--each student has a popsicle stick with their name on it.) Talking after that earns time at lunch to discuss.... (Yeah, it's a lunch detention, but I avoid calling it that.) ;)

  • paintpeace 04/17/2013 at 03:26pm
    I am still dumbfounded by the negative behaviors that pop up. Kid tells me he is bored. Others refuse to start. Others make a huge mess and leave it for others to clean up. Others break pencils and throw them. I do lots of positive reinforcement, checks for understanding, raffle tickets, options. This middle school elective is more of a dumping ground and kids tell me they want to "have fun"- translation, make a mess with supplies and talk with friend. I reseat students, I call parents. This is middle school? I also have many wonderful, amazing students who don't need basic reminders on a daily basis. But the ones who do....I must be doing something wrong. The district doesn't help, because the art grades are not factored into their GPA, so the kids who enjoy seeing what they can get away with, remind me that they don't care about art because it doesn't matter...For the kids on task, we have done awesome projects, hung all around the school, which has blown staff and visitors minds. so, I am doing something right. QUESTION: People talk about you must have STRUCTURE. please, define your version of structure and give me examples of how you implement them. THAnks!

  • jbucher 07/09/2013 at 01:18pm
    I will be starting my 4th year teaching junior high and my 22nd year of teaching art. I have very simple rules similar to most,, respect yourself, others, materials, etc. I always start class with a count down..even after the bell and set expectation for behavior. "By the time I count down from 10, I expect everyone to be in their seat with a pencil, or I expect them to have their work from yesterday at their table." I often have the class that proceeds the incoming class place student work on the tables. This way there is not hoopla around getting their art work out.. time to visit,.. poke at each other..etc. I greet them at the door and tell them to " go shopping ' for their work. I will have something on the SMART board too.. a picture, a quote, the first few steps of directions or a review of what we have done so far.
    If the room is on task, I will usually play PANDORA radio on the computer. I rarely let them pick the artist.. this leads to too much chatter and dissent. Near the end of class I have the "FANTASTIC FIVE" This is the same as Joannemb's 10 off. Five fantastic minutes of on task, silent work. They love it! They will even ask if we are going to have a Fantastic Five today. Five minutes is doable. I often extend it, because they are working so well. I divide and conquer on clean up. One person at each table will put the work away. One will clean up the supplies. One will wash and dry the table. If I need to have the room silent I start with 5 minutes. If they talk I double it to 10.. 10 doubles to 20 .. 20 to 40 get the idea... I don't mess around! I don't think I have had to get past 10 minutes yet in the 3 years I have been there! I do have a writing that I have students who are very off task and disruptive complete. They write it for the rest of the period. I will download it, if I can figure out how to do it! I talk about it with them, and file it away. If I see a repeating pattern, I will issue an after school detention. I will notify parents as well . I am a parent and would want to know what is going on. I ask them to please reinforce the rules with their child and ask them to support me . I have never had a parent respond in an unfavorable manner.

  • RuthByrne 07/15/2013 at 05:10am
    LOVE the fantastic Five. I'm definitely introducing that this year in my classroom. Thankls jbucher!!