How to Be an Effective Middle School Teacher Part 2

Read these tips to become the best teacher for your students.

Incorporate socializing into your lessons whenever possible.

Most middle school students thrive on working with their peers. When they aren’t given the opportunity to talk to each other, they will often create their own social opportunities at inopportune times during your lesson. If you provide occasional times to communicate with classmates, then things will go more smoothly for all of you. These can include Think Pair Share, explaining a definition to a classmate, or coming up with examples together.

Allow for movement!

Students have plenty of time to be blobs. Movement gets their blood flowing which improves their ability to learn and refocus after learning difficult content. Movement is especially important during long block classes when students don’t have passing periods to get out their wiggles. Have students get up to turn in their own assignments; have a clear procedure for this, but don’t do it for them. Let students collect their own supplies. Have students do certain movements to show their answers (hop for answer A, flap your arms for answer B, etc.). During especially lethargic classes, I've been known to instruct my students to give a high five to five different people in the room. One of my favorite ways to practice content is with stations, which allow for plenty of movement and socialization. Here are some tips for how to effectively use stations in your classroom.

Be flexible.

One thing I love about teaching middle school students is how every day is completely different with them. They are strange people at this age and that means you’ll have to roll with the (hopefully not literal) punches.

Underestimate how long a lesson will take.

There have been a few lessons I taught that ended a good thirty minutes earlier than I expected them too. Wowza. Don’t let that be you. Have plenty of components to your lesson, a back up plan for what to do in case the lesson ends early, or a trusty time filler you can use in emergencies. My students LOVED when I pulled out my book of fun questions. It will not—and should not—kill thirty minutes of time, but it helped with a few minutes here and there throughout the year. Learn how to make your own fun question book, or get mine from my TPT store.

Check for understanding often.

Trust me, you don’t want to have taught an entire lesson only to realize at the end of class that your students are still trying to figure out step one. There are many ways to check for understanding throughout your lesson: cold calling, quick multiple choice questions, listening to student discussions, having students explain things back to you, and even counting the number of blank stares you receive.

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