100 Practical Tips and Tricks for Novice Middle and High School Teachers

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Based on their advice, consider switching things up or making a fresh trip to the teacher store. As little as it may seem on its face, switching up the presentation of the room sends a strong visual message to your students about your attitude toward them and the subject matter. On its face, teaching looks like an individual profession. A teacher, usually the sole adult in the classroom, has the responsibility to work with a group of children on a certain subject over the course of a year.

The weight of our work — lesson planning, student behavior management, meeting school and state expectations, working effectively with parents, etc. I assure you that a friendly greeting comes as a great relief to someone just starting. For your more veteran colleagues, offer to help them whenever you can.

This can consist of sharing resources, helping with classroom setup and giving advice. Developing these connections before a crisis erupts is essential. Rather, find colleagues who like to focus on activities that are best for the children. This can include schoolwide learning projects, social service activities or special functions and assemblies. One of the most gratifying parts of my job is attending a large group activity where colleagues go above and beyond to bring learning to the children.

Building collegiality to become a better teacher

When co-workers realize that their colleagues are caring, supportive and focused on doing the right thing, then great things can follow. This places an important focus on mindset and attitude. Rather than getting pulled into the petty politics and sour attitudes of disillusioned colleagues, try focusing on the positive aspects of your school. The experiment brought members of two hostile factions together and had them sit and share a meal consisting of delicacies from both cultures. The results showed that the exchange of food and informal conversation over the meal helped break down barriers and bond the group.

Bring that same attitude toward your colleagues. Invite them to lunch or order in from time to time. Talk about things other than your work and let human nature do its work: Your bonds will be all the stronger for it. Ultimately, we surround ourselves with mirrors of ourselves.


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They are nifty little water-absorbing polymers. BioFilm Experiment — Make the study of microbiology a bit more interesting with this experiment. Includes free printable. How to Make Plastic — Make your own gelatin bioplastic. Circuit Bugs — Use circuits and batteries to bring these bugs to life. Invisible Ink — Unlock the secrets of invisible ink with this activity.

Do you see what I did there? How to Make a Paper Mache Earth Model — Another one of our all-time favorite hands-on projects, this model is suitable for middle school. It is easily adaptable for high school.

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How to Mummify a chicken — Is it possible to study ancient Egypt without mummifying a chicken? Timeline Accordion Book — Record any time period with this accordion book.

8 Things I Know for Sure About (Most) Middle School Kids | Cult of Pedagogy

How to Make Berry Ink — Step back in time and make your own ink. Explore static electricity with this experiment. Create a Biographical Trailer — Use iMovie or another tool to create a trailer about a historical biography. Paper Art Landforms — Make learning about landforms fun with this paper art project.

Character Traits (Needs Improvement)

Making an Edible Map — This edible map tutorial uses cookie dough as the base with icing to represent lakes. Adding other candies to represent other landforms would expand this project easily for older students. Making a Paper Mache Map — Tutorial for making a topographical map from paper mache.

How to Make a Salt Dough Map — Salt dough maps are a family favorite and easily adaptable to a wide student age-range. How to Make a Compass — A tutorial for making a homemade compass and determining magnetic north using the completed project. Plate Tectonics — A tasty way to learn about continental drift and plate tectonics. Karst Cave Model — Make an edible karst cave to understand how karst landscapes are formed.

S Geography Scavenger Hunt — Make learning to use an atlas fun with these ideas. Paper Airplane Math — Practice graphing the fun way — with paper airplanes! Older kids can practice fractions; mean, median, and mode; and graphing. Cost of a Pumpkin Algebra Lesson — Bring algebraic equations to life with this activity. Hands-on Geometry — Math is always more meaningful when kids can see real-life applications, so try these hands-on geometry ideas.

Gumdrop Structures Engineering Challenge — A fantastic STEM activity that can be made more or less difficult based on the parameters you decide to set. Interactive Notebook Entry: Graphing Using Slope-Intercept Form — Templates and instructions for creating an interactive notebooking page for graphing using slope-intercept.

Around the World in 80 Days Activities — These free printables are geared to younger students, but there are lots of great activities to do with tweens and teens. Library Scavenger Hunt — Teach your student about literary genres with this scavenger hunt. A Nature Study Photography Project for Any Age — Photography makes a fantastic high school elective, so use these tips to combine it with nature study.

Home Economics: Budgeting — No homeschooled student should graduate without learning this vital life skill. Experimenting with Flexibility — Add this resource to your health class notes. How to Use Current Events in Your Homeschool — Current events can provide a springboard for some great hands-on learning. I studied Elementary Education but Id like to write books for this age group. Your information was incredibly helpful and gave me many ideas for my next book.

Thank you! I am retiring this year after 46 years of teaching, most of it with 6th graders in a middle school. I have seen or experienced everything you have written about. Around here we may call them hormones in sneakers, given the speed with which their moods can change. I have enjoyed my run, I think interacting with the kids has kept me feeling young; but it is definitely time to let others take this over. Thanks for this post! The one that is gladly not true for me is the parent one.

I am really close with my parents! I hate staying away from them for to long. This is very helpful to me. The grade boys, and the 6th grade girls in my classes anyway seem to have no concept of respect, and they can wear me down. Boys generally talk non-stop, and girls look at me as though I were some vermin.

Glad you found this helpful! Having some validation and a bit more insight goes a long way. Both of these articles offer some practical strategies that can be implemented right away. They tend to want relationship-building. What about letting them journal for 5 minutes once a week, reading your own entry, and having them read theirs? Good luck! Fantastic article!! Everything in it is so true, the spider and snow reaction is right on point. Thank you for giving the how to handle it notes, definitely helpful. Great article, but i could add one more — giggling, especially by the boys.

Anything can set it off! Not anything. Silent jokes. They often just have absolutely no self-control beyond 2 minutes. I would also add, Middle-schoolers will do anything. They will eat 5 packets of hot sauce at 8am, and they will shock you change from sitting passively, not doing any work on their own when you leave their side, to barreling through a multi-step research project and being the first one to finish it—who knows why!

I love this article! And of course sharing it right now is perfect, because for middle schoolers Spring is a real thing. It is also making me a little sad because I am moving from my 4 years of teaching 6th grade in an elementary setting to teaching 3rd grade. I look forward to many things about 3rd, but there is a big part of me that really gets and feeds off of the irreverence that middle schoolers have.

That irreverence is a lot of what enables them to be so intellectually open. Thanks for reminding me why I love them! This pretty much covers it. The most important thing to remember when working with middle schooler is that your ability to laugh at yourself goes a long way. There are challenges, sure, but it is work worth doing. Teaching 7th grade is like strapping into a roller coaster every day. The highs can make you smile and love your job and the lows can make you cry, but the ride is usually worth it! Or you can have the monstrous students that make some teachers throw staplers… My school was a jungle but even worse.

Right on the money, Jen! I chose the level for the past 28 years. Core French, Art, Tech and Health: if you can add an active lesson into the mix—drawing outdoors, walks and talks, free minutes earned against hard work, and more, they do cooperate. I found too, they respond well, if noisily, when doing group work. In turn, each answers a question, always passing, never speaking.

And yet, they are permitted animated touching of the paper by peers, expressions through eyes and faces, head shaking, just no talking.. And hyper quiet! Not done often, but enjoyed each time! They loved the challenge, too. Great words, Jen! You got alot of this wrong. I am currently in 7th grade, and am quite sure that school has changed a lot since you were in school I admire the effort, but to improve this, I will explain what is wrong and what is right.

While we do think its important but we also believe in the importance of other things such as fun and school work. Just straight nope. We make jokes about it and are just pretty eh about it. Of it snows, well I live in Arizona phoenix so yeahwe would freak out, but if a girls crying its mostly are you ok or not a bit of care. And a spider will get an oh from a person and a stomp. We just feel kind of awkward for a sec and then revel in it for a hot minute.

Sort of. Some people are completely annoying about it.

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But most people are incredibly trustworthy. Kinda, we all know we arent the center of the world but we are kind of moral monsters sometimes. Yeah a lot of kids but some will still stay close to their parents. Kinda depends how much they like or understand their parents. Completely right. But anyway, it is interesting but mostly wrong. I know its been 4 years but I feel like people should be informed anyways.

Oh and some kids have sever depression and suicidal tendencies because of the pressure from school and life. Its really horrible when I have to talk classmates out of suicide. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective here. I will admit, these are generalizations. Regardless, it may not fit you and the people you know, so I appreciate you taking the time to remind us that you are all individuals.

You are so right. This article was actually written pre-Fortnite , but I love comments like yours because it keeps it [more specifically] relevant. Thank you for this article! I taught ELL in middle school for a year of my 25 years as a teacher and I enjoyed it. What do you all recommend are great ideas to explore when it comes to empowering our middle schoolers? What leadership skills do you wish your principal or AP had that could have brought the best in you as a middle school teacher?

Hi Marissa! Congratulations on your changing role! To answer your question about empowering students, I tried to look at it from an administrative perspective, but some of these suggestions may still be good to pass along to teachers: — Creating a Welcoming Classroom for Students with Special Needs — How Dialogue Journals Build Teacher-Student Relationships — Is Your Classroom Academically Safe? Now, for a personal answer: I spent just a small amount of time teaching middle school, and I did not feel supported at all. Well, he said hi once when we were awkwardly in the copy room at the same time.

But my administration did not do anything to make sure teachers were getting the help we need. Hi Kayla! How exciting! But I understand being nervous. Middle school makes everybody nervous, so your friends might be wondering the same thing! I found this article with advice written by a girl who is going into 7th grade, so I hope it helps! I am a middle schooler, and even though I am not a teacher I can definitely agree to all of these points.

I am a 7th Grader and I was wondering if u could give me tips on developing respect, responsibility, and behavior. Good to hear from you! Teens go through lots of changes socially, emotionally, and physically and sometimes it can feel really hard managing everything. I think it could be a good place to start.

Hi Naisha! It sounds like you enjoy school and learning. Thanks for sharing! I also agree with you. I thought I had it bad dealing with the second and third grade kids but now I have changed my mind. I love my job though. But have you been in a deep one on one chat with one of them? But those 7th graders are experiencing something so new and untaught at schools curriculum that well.

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They become more self aware, more conscious about their public status and more extreme emotionally, mentally. They need utmost care and most importantly understanding people around them. Thank you to all Middle School Teachers. You make life differences with our students and never get the credit you deserve.

Books & Resources

The largest impact on our students lives is in the Middle. They are seeking adult role models other than their parents. I have been at all levels. Elementary students are not mature enough to understand meaningful conversations you have with them. High School students feel they know everything but want to be heard. Middle School students are trying to find themselves. That is why Middle School teachers have the largest responsibility to not only teach academics but they need to teach about life. Thank you Middle School Teachers! Not a teacher but this article gave me a better understanding of what my 11 year old daughter is going through.

Thank you for sharing. I had no idea this is how middle school kids are. It was harsh, but the truth hurts. Hey Isabella, thanks for commenting! I just wanted to let you know that Jenn loves middle school students and her goal in writing this post was to help teachers understand how to relate to them better, not to point out ways they need to change. A lot of what she says is just a normal part of how kids grow and develop. Enjoy being a middle schooler while you are one! PS if you have prizes like candy or something then that can really get thier attention.

Close Can't find what you are looking for? They care more about the opinions of their peers than pretty much anything else. They are horrified by what their bodies are doing. They trend toward hyperbole. They are mortified by public praise. They just now realized you are a human being.


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  • Wait…never mind. They are pulling away from their parents. They are still kids. I found it to be an approachable, comprehensive look at the most effective ways to teach this age group, from their emotional and social needs to their cognitive capabilities. If you are preparing middle school teachers, working with middle school students, or just want to know more about teaching this unique group, this would be an excellent resource.



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