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Middle School Classroom Management – Behavior Action Plan
One of the hardest skills to master as a teacher is classroom management. Unfortunately, if you don’t master this skill, you’re not going to survive as a teacher, especially as a middle school teacher.
However, at the start of the school year, many first-year college teachers are pleasantly surprised. Throughout their teacher training, they were told how difficult middle school classroom management can be and how important it is to have effective classroom management skills to be a good teacher.
Still, for the first few days of school, there doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem…the students seem quite attentive, no one really talks or passes notes, there’s certainly been no talking back or fight for the first few days…but then things start to change.
You see, these early days are honeymoon time…the students are nervous and many are a little scared so they sit and wait. However, by the end of the first week of school, or certainly by the second week of school, middle school students begin to feel more comfortable, they begin to test the limits of the teacher and classroom management becomes more and more difficult.
It is at this point that many teachers begin to panic and immediately resort to various reward/punishment systems, or as Alfie Kohn calls them…”carrot and stick” systems.
Unfortunately, these elaborate systems are a mistake. They only provide temporary solutions to a persistent problem. Students who respond to rewards begin to do their work and behave ONLY if a reward is involved, while at the same time many students who thrive on negative attention actually begin to seek punishment.
The best plan is the “proactive approach” to classroom management. The proactive approach is based on the premise that the best classroom management plan is a solid instructional plan…that the key to middle school classroom management is to keep all of your students actively involved in all of your lessons.
Unfortunately, there are times when teachers are still forced to react. There are times when the teacher has used all the proactive tips in the book and a student still does something that forces the teacher to react.
HOWEVER, just because a teacher has to react to a situation means the teacher has to punish the student. The teacher should still record the punishment as a last resort only!
So what’s a teacher to do?
Well, here’s an idea… create a “behavioral action plan”. Better yet, have the student create the “behavioral action plan.”
The key to changing inappropriate student behavior is for the *student* to take responsibility for their actions. First, the student must identify the inappropriate behavior, then determine why it is inappropriate, and finally, how they plan to stop the inappropriate behavior.
All the teacher needs to do is ask the student to complete a “behavioral action plan”. The plan asks the student to complete the following three statements:
1. I am writing this plan because I…
2. This behavior was inappropriate because…
3. To prevent this from happening again, I plan to…
Then, at the bottom of the document, make sure the student signs their name. By signing his name, the student promises to follow his plan.
Ultimately, this classroom management approach is far better than simply punishing the student for misbehavior. This classroom management approach has long-term results.
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