Classroom Rules for Middle School

Create class agreements instead of rules and create community at the same time!

Since I have been teaching Middle School for 28 years (and 1 year in high school - that's another story for another time), I am often asked what I recommend as the best behavior management system.

What I recommend is this:  Creating "agreements" - not rules - and a system that recognizes students for their growth (and sometimes just for the everyday good things that they do.)

How do I do this?

Creating Agreements

Day one
1.  Give all students two sticky notes.

2.  On one sticky note, ask the students to write down what they personally need to do to be successful.

3.  On the other sticky note, ask the students to write down what they need from YOU to be successful.

4.  Have them place their sticky notes on a bulletin board or some other location in the room.  

Get to know your students & their needs by creating class agreements!  #behaviormanagement #ideas

In between Day one and Day two, group the sticky notes into 4 categories:  Prompt, Prepared, Responsible, and Respectful.   Do not title the categories.

Day two
1.  Tell the students that yesterday you tried to group their ideas.  Read the stickies that have been grouped together and ask the students what they think the title of that group should be.  (Take several answers and then tell them the word that ties it all together - the category name you already have in mind.)  Then label it.

2.  After you label all 4 categories, you ask:
  • "So is there anything that needs to be added?  (Pause - look for hands.  Make additions as necessary.)  
  • Is there anything that doesn't belong?  (Pause - look for hands.  Discuss possible deletions.)  
  • So now, do we all agree that this is what we need to be successful in this classroom this year?  (Pause - any objections?  Fix that with additions/deletions and then gain consensus.)
  • So now we have just made an agreement that these are the things we need to be successful so these are our "rules" but I will call them our "agreements" because we all agreed on this together.  I will even summarize these for you with some posters that I will make and post this week.

3.  Now you might want to talk about consequences for students do not live up to their end of the agreement. I usually declare "It's only fair to first receive a warning, don't you agree?"  Then I follow it up with my 4 step process:
  • Warning (Redirection)
  • Sideline (Move seat)
  • Phone call home  (keep a log on the back of a students information sheet you might send home with a syllabus.)
  • Reflection:  A behavior essay (to help reteach them what appropriate behavior is)
  • Referral.

4.  Then I'll say "But I'm sure we won't have much of that to deal with since we all agreed on what we need to be successful so let's talk more about the successful side."  Now I will begin to talk about my positive reinforcement system - Super Improvers and/or Tickets.  

Super Improvers

This idea comes from Whole Brain Teaching.  I modified it for my middle school classes.  This is where kids can visually track progress and move up in the ranks as they progress through the year.  My students have really enjoyed moving up through the ranks and coming up with privileges for each rank.

Some of the privileges they have suggested are:  free tardy pass, bonus points, choose your own seat, and first to leave.  We decided together which level would earn which privilege.

Each student has to earn 10 improvements before they can move up a level.  My students all wanted to be living legends!  :)

Ticket System

This idea is mine and is something I use with students who need that something "extra" beyond the Super Improvers.  Basically, I give out tickets to students who have earned top grades, or who answer a question, or who positively contribute in some way to the class.  Then I do a weekly drawing on Fridays.   Students love it when their efforts are rewarded in immediate, tangible ways.

So there you have it!  These are the secrets to my success in making it through 25 years of teaching!  I hope they help you have success too!

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Looking for the best way to create classroom rules with your middle school classes?  See what's worked for me through 25 years of teaching. #behaviormanagement  #ideas

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