Question Detail

Can anyone help with 8th grade?

Nov 1, 2013 12:52am

This is my 28th year teaching, and my 1st with 34 8th-grade students. I took the class a month into the year. Talk about a tough audience! 2/3 of the students - amazing; most students - good; the rest - a gang-mentality. Things would be easier had I started the year with them. After 19 years in elementary, and 9 in middle school, mostly hi-cap, I've lost confidence. The Teaching Channel videos are great, but I've yet to see a teacher deal with behaviors I see daily. My sixth grade students respond to my lessons. The 8th grade students... not so much! Imagine students talking while you are teaching, students getting a drink during lessons, asking a student to listen, and then another letting out a big guffaw, slapping the desk, making others laugh. Imagine a transition time where people hop out of their seats to get a drink and socialize. I am ill-prepared for this manipulative behavior. Any advice on taking over a class? Thanks!

  • English Language Arts
  • 6-8


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    • Nov 4, 2013 7:09pm

      keep being stern and provide them with much structure. Do not allow yourself to be taken for granted and continue to support your students. I am sure that you are well equipped so just be patient.

      • Nov 4, 2013 11:38pm

        Thank you Michael, for the positive attitude. I am definitely keeping things structured. In reflection, today would be day 4.5 of feeling good about my teaching with this class. Perhaps my frustration is that in my other classes I am on day 55 or so of that feel-good attitude. I keep telling myself that I am learning a LOT. Fortunately I look at each day as a new day to teach my expectations... and to move beyond yesterday. Thanks again!

        • Nov 9, 2013 5:36am

          I know that you have a lot more experience than I do and I think I know what you mean about "feeling good. But press on and keep this age-level engaged.

          • Dec 9, 2013 6:00pm

            Does your school have any sort of behavior system in place? If not, I'd set a list of guidelines for your personal classroom. Actually, I'd have the students create a list of guidelines to help them be successful. You can definitely facilitate the conversation, but it'll probably be more meaningful and more effective if they get to decide on the rules. If students are constantly getting out of their seats and/or making noise, it's probably incredibly distracting to the majority, but they might not know how to relay that to their peers. After having students or groups brainstorm guidelines, let the class vote (or take a blind vote) whether it should get published in your set of guidelines or not. (Most kids really want structure, but it's difficult for them to express that wish.) Then, print the guidelines and have each student AND his/her parent sign it. This is the accountability piece you can use when things don't go accordingly.

            Also, 8th graders think they're cool. I've noticed that making a joke or adding some humor to my "friendly reminders" never hurt. For example, if two kids are talking, I stop the class and say, "Wait! It looks like X has something brilliant to say! Please, tell us!" Usually they chuckle or roll their eyes and say, sorry! If you have a good relationship with your kids, they get the hint, and they return their attention to the lesson.

            Good luck!