You'll really enjoy this age...if you let yourself and are prepared. By that
I mean you'll have to sit down beforehand and make some mental preparation
and take stock of your desires. There's a few things you need to know and
1. They are PEOPLE.
- they like to see fairness (even though they may not reciprocate)
- they want to be respected (mentioned in other posts) but often
don't give it themselves..or TO themselves
- they crave excitement and will get it any way they can to liven up the
day (wouldn't you?)
- there is a "pecking order" with each class and they'll look to their
leaders for direction
2. You need to figure out what your "hot buttons" are...what you think is
important enough to you that must be done in your classes BEFORE you
even begin to teach. For example, will unexcused tardies be a big hurdle
for you to accept or will you not make a federal case out of it? (I do.)
Will you allow talking while working? What if they talk too much and
stop working? What will you do? Does inappropriate language bother you
or will you choose to ignore it? What will be the consequence? You'll
need to know this before you enter the classroom so you can tell the
kids right-up-front and they know your "limits".
The limits will be tested often so you'll need to know what you are going to
do. These limits might be different from your co-op teacher so you'll need
to discuss with her/him your feelings. When you first start observing, this
is a grand time for this. You'll be overwhelmed with all the new stuff but
zero in on this as a priority. Preparation is 90% of your teaching/
Humor helps but you need to be comfortable with your limits first. If your
heart starts thumping too loudly because you're nervous about what you might
have to do and you're not sure how to handle it, then you're not comfortable
yet...obviously. They will know that too. It's uncanny! Take some deep
breaths. The world will not stop if you flub. Laugh at yourself if you do
and it will always break the ice. Kids will laugh at you (because they
donn't know what else to do) when something goes wrong but you'll need to
turn that around and make it work for you. The kids will be grateful you
have some humor after all!
Start teaching immediately at the sound of the bell. Don't let the class
yoyo's momentum start before you do.
The hardest thing, I think, to learn is to not take things too personal.
Middle school kids say things most of the time without thinking. Most are
sorry immediately afterwards. Be open with them about that. Don't sluff it
off...talk to the whole group about your feelings. They tend to forget you
are human too and that's an eye-opener to them. Openess breeds respect in
their eyes...unless you want to take the other approach and be domineering
in which case that usually breeds fear instead of respect. Sometimes THAT
works too...fearful respect...ha! Learn when to use both.
The "pecking order" must be maintained with your being top dog. If you can
sort out the other "top dog" student/s, discuss the first infraction outside
the doorway separating them from the others. Don't try it in class with
everyone around. BIG MENTAL NOTE...Keeping their "cool" in front of others
is way more important than what the teacher thinks.
Don't get upset but keep an even keel. By all means don't let them know
they've punched one of your buttons unless it's a really bad punch. Follow
through with your previously discussed reprocussions calmly. They are just
DYING to see your nostrils flare! Excitement!!
Dress for success. I don't have to do that so much anymore because my gray
hair tends to spell "success" since I'm still around, but you're no doubt
younger looking so dressing the part is important. Wearing jeans and being
sloppy looks like you're trying to be one of them...and honey...you're not!
They don't want you to be either.
Every day is a new day. Think about making that your motto in middle school.
They forget things alot faster than you do.