In this eclectic collection of articles for new teachers, you'll find plenty of how-to advice -- and also some excellent "think" pieces that will serve you well as you progress through the year. Subscribe to our newsletter for more like these!
What to Do When the Kids Don't Share Your Culture
The respected educator Ted Sizer once said: "You can’t teach someone you don’t know." What is the most effective path for working with students who come from backgrounds different than your own? Middle grades instructional coach Elena Aguilar offers 13 tips that will be of interest not only to new teachers but to anyone who works in multi-cultural classrooms.
Important Things to Do Before Your Students Arrive
Veteran middle school teacher Marsha Ratzel offers advice about actions novice teachers should take BEFORE the first day with students. A math, science and social studies teacher in Blue Valley KS, Ratzel's ideas range from the practical to the profound and are a must-read – sooner rather than later. Also see another article by Ratzel that includes an illustrated discussion of how she organizes her classroom for learning.
How to Tame the Dragon of Classroom Chaos: Organizing Yourself & Your Students
"My classroom is not neat and tidy and shiny like some," writes middle school math and social studies teacher Cossondra George. "It has that homey, lived-in, loved look." So how does the semi-organized teacher hold the Mighty Dragon of Chaos at bay? George shares 10 "stolen" strategies that help her and her kids stay focused on learning. Also: In a follow-up post at her teaching blog, she builds on her ideas to include tips on instructional management.
Get Back in Touch with Your Inner Tween
Effective middle grades teachers have the knack for remembering what it was like to be an adolescent in school (frightening as it sometimes was). MS teacher and new author Heather Wolpert-Gawron recently shared some ideas about getting back in touch with your inner student in this excerpt from her recent book Tween Crayons and Curfews: Tips for Middle School Teachers. Also: If you like what you read, jump over to W-G's teaching blog TweenTeacher and read her top 10 ideas about "How to Take Control of Your Teaching."
Involve Students in Creating Classroom Norms
This article at Education World offers a collection of teacher strategies aimed at increasing student ownership of classroom rules and norms by involving them in their creation. Also: For more ideas about positive approaches to behavior management, see this excellent article "Assuming the Best" based on the successful strategies of teachers in high-needs schools.
Priming the Student Learning Pump
New-teacher mentor Kathie Marshall tells the story of a novice middle school teacher who learns some important lessons about student engagement. One reader commented: “As a first year teacher, this was a refreshing article to read and relate to. I know that engaging students is the key to their success, but I, too, became overwhelmed with the curriculum and ignored the most important factor of teaching -- engaging the learners!” Enough said!
Teaching Secrets: Effective Questioning
"Research has demonstrated the value of effective questioning, but the stats are depressing," says board-certified teacher Elizabeth Stein. "About 60 percent of all teachers’ questions fall under the category of 'recall,' the kinds of questions that require students to regurgitate facts." Stein explains how teachers can deepen learning by setting the stage for fruitful inquiry, then asking the right kinds of questions: open-ended, diagnostic, challenge, elaboration and extension. (Free registration at Ed Week Teacher)
Use Left-Over Classroom Time Wisely
Nobody does a better job of gathering useful teacher advice than resources guru Larry Ferlazzo, as he demonstrates in this article filled with good ideas (from his own classroom and others) about maximizing the teaching potential of those leftover minutes between the end of the planned lesson and the final buzzer.
Meeting Parents at the Beginning of School
Parent nights send "chills up the spine of many teachers," says veteran middle grades teacher Marsha Ratzel. Her article is aimed at helping novice educators prepare for a successful parent meet-and-greet experience. Don't get lost in the details of your classroom, she says. Remember that parents most want to know that you're going to treat their child fairly, you're committed to teaching both the curriculum and other skills well, and you'll listen to them as a valued partner in their child's school year. Also: Check out this Educational Leadership article "But What Do I Say to Parents?"
Not New, but New to Middle School?
And finally, recognizing that all new teachers in the middle grades aren't novice teachers, we offer a reflection by a veteran elementary teacher who recently moved a few rungs up the grade ladder -- who shares the valuable help she got from two middle school classics by teacher, author and middle school expert Rick Wormeli. "Both of these books are treasures for any new middle school teacher, be they novice or level-jumping veteran."
Like this feature? We'll be sharing lots more advice for new teachers in upcoming MiddleWeb newsletters. You can subscribe here.