Creating Classroom Community in Middle School

Building classroom community in Middle School can be tough unless you have a smart approach like this one.  #backtoschool #classroommanagement

Creating classroom community in Middle School can be tough.  You only have those students for about 45 minutes and then they're gone.  Then there's that "too cool for school" attitude.  So how do you make those connections?

Well, one thing that has paved the way for me is starting every year with creating classroom agreements.

These are like rules but with better buy-in.

On the second day of school, I give each student 2 sticky notes.  I ask them to write what they need to be successful on one sticky and what they need from me to be successful.  Then I ask them to stick them to the two sides of the board.

Create Classroom Agreements instead of Rules!  #middleschool #teaching #backtoschool #classroommanagement

After school, I move the sticky notes into categories.  Generally, all the notes fit into one of these 4 categories:  Prompt, Prepared, Responsible, and Respectful.  I put them into categories but WITHOUT titles.

So now on the third day, I tell the students that I read their notes last night and found that I could categorize them into groups.  I read all the notes in one group and ask what title to give to the group.  We usually find a word we can agree on.

Then I say "So do we all agree that we need to be _(prompt)_ to be successful?"  Usually, there are nods of agreement and I'll encourage verbal "yes" answers.

I go through this process until all notes have been read and categories have been agreed upon.  Then I say "So now that we all agree this is what we need to be successful, instead of rules, we have these agreements."

Now whenever a student is tardy, I can say "Didn't we all agree at the beginning of the year that we would be on time?"  It puts the onus right back where it belongs - on the student.

Of course, there are consequences for breaking the agreements - pretty much the same as a typical behavior policy.  The first is a warning (see above), the second is a phone call home, the third is a re-teaching assignment (an essay on the area of issue) and finally a referral.  But all of this is framed in terms of what the student said he/she needs to be successful so it's more personal.

Need some more ideas to get that first week of school going?  Try this:

And of course, there are others to choose from:
Take a look by clicking here and see if you find something that matches your style.

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