Classroom Management for Middle School

Middle school is a unique time in students’ lives. They’re beginning to feel “grown up,” but aren’t really. They’re awkward in social interactions and susceptible to peer pressure. They’re actively trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world. Seventh, eighth, and ninth grade can be a “hard age.” Because of these factors, and a hundred others, most teachers would agree that middle school is one of the most challenging levels to teach.

It doesn’t have to be, though! With effective classroom management strategies, teaching middle school can be fun and rewarding.

Whatever your classroom management style, below are tips that can make teaching easier for you, and learning easier for your students.

Set Boundaries

Middle school students – perhaps more so than any other grade level – need clear boundaries that are consistently enforced. New middle school teachers often make the mistake of being too nice because they want students to like them. This leniency can lead to disaster. Students who are perpetually pushing boundaries (and it’s inevitable that you’ll have at least a few of these types of students in your classroom) can cause disruptions and distractions that affect everyone. Setting boundaries and evenly enforcing them can create a better learning environment for everyone.

Engage With Your Students

While some middle school teachers are too nice, others are so afraid of losing control of the classroom that they don’t let their own personalities shine. Be authentic. Be yourself. Make students laugh. Apologize if you do something wrong. There always needs to be a separation between teacher and student, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t connect with students.

Teach For All Learners

Middle school students, like all students, learn in different ways. By using a variety of teaching methods, you’re more likely to engage all students. Incorporate students’ interests into your lesson plans. Give students choices about completing tasks individually or in groups. Encourage more participation by increasing group activities. Let students “tutor” each other. Let students set goals for themselves. The more engaged students are, they more well-behaved they tend to be.

Provide Encouragement And Praise

People of all ages love encouragement and praise, but middle schoolers, in particular, respond well to positivity. Encourage students whenever you can – to ask questions, to speak up, to share thoughts, to take chances, to disagree (respectfully) with you or other students. The more you encourage students, the more supported they’ll feel. Be generous with authentic praise.

Discipline With Care

Middle school students are incredibly sensitive, so it’s important that you choose your language carefully when providing criticism. And if you need to discipline a student for misbehaving or breaking one of the rules of the classroom, try to do it privately. Speak with the student after class or in the hallway. If you need to apply a consequence, make it small. If a small “punishment” doesn’t do the trick, you can escalate. But you never want to start big with your consequences, or you have nowhere to go.

Education 4 Equity Online Professional Development Courses

At Education 4 Equity, we have a wide range of online professional development courses for teachers, including Classroom Management: Restorative Justice In Action. We have 1-credit, 2-credit, and 3-credit online courses for teachers that qualify for graduate level credit and have been approved for LAUSD salary points through the Los Angeles Unified School District.