I have never taught middle school, so I am not sure if anything I say will
have any relevance to your situation.
It seems to me that a middle school art class should not involve "lecture"
"Presentation"--yes. "Discussion"--yes. "Demonstration"--yes. But "lecture"?
I do not see any middle school student wanting to come to that art class! I
would imagine that kids this age (any age, really) need to be INSPIRED. Do
they have the note-taking skills to know how to even benefit from a lecture?
Would even the best students that you've had really flourish in a
lecture-style art class? I think that is a sure way to lose them!
And as for student activity--expecting "essays" from the misbehaving
students--I just don't see how that would work. Have the students in your
school really developed the writing skills to make an essay assignment a
worthwhile task for them? Especially those students who would be misbehaving
the most? I can't imagine that they would put any effort into them. And
writing the rules over and over--that, too seems empty to me. I do not think
if I were a kid I would have much respect for the teacher who expects
cooperation from that. That being said, I am not sure what would be
appropriate disciplinary action. But if the worse students are on behavior
contracts with the school, doesn't the behavior contract spell out
Art is an opportunity for students to do something beyond the ordinary
activities of the classroom setting. It is a chance to get your hands dirty
and do something expressive. When you take away that interesting facet of
art class, I would think you'd be far more likely to have behavior
So now your quest might become how to effectively present the information
you want them to take in, how to structure their studio assignments for
maximum interest and productivity, and how to reinforce and measure learning
of the concepts you want them to take from your class.
As for all the hats you've been trying on--you've tried being the "mean"
teacher; you've tried being the "understanding" teacher--now why not try
being yourself?! It seems that you are trying to let the students and their
behavior dictate how you behave, instead of letting your own teaching style
and personality dictate your expectations and strategies for student
I don't know if I am making any sense--but you are trying so hard to seek
the perfect teaching approach--there is no cookie cutter way of success.
Have some confidence in your instincts and work on infusing your personality
and enthusiasm into your lessons. It will be so much more sincere than
trying strategy after strategy that may or may not be a fit with who you are
as a teacher.
I hope that as these last weeks go by, you have the opportunity to really
feel your own identity as a teacher who has so much to offer these kids,
even if you are not the most experienced yet. You are gaining experience
I was really pleased to read that you are not necessarily seeking to leave
the school as soon as you can. I admire your goal to stick it out at least
another year. It says a lot about your character, and it seems like you are
the kind of teacher these kids need, even if that isn't evident in your
daily experiences with those challenging classes. You will get the classroom
management down. It may not be this year, but then again--it may be with
this new batch of kids!
Wishing you the very best tomorrow, this week, and in the weeks to come,