I'm a new teacher who just got hired to teach 6th grade. I have experience with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades, but all I know about 6th graders is that I'm scared to death of them! They seem so tall and loud compared to my little 4th graders!
I've been exploring all the great posts on this site, and have gathered some wonderful tips. What I'm most worried about at this point is classroom management and discipline. I'm worried that older kids won't buy into the same management systems as the younger kids. Do cube jars, tickets, or classroom 'currencies' still work with kids in 6th grade? Outside of these positive reinforcement systems, what types of things help foster that intrinsic motivation with 6th graders? How can you best avoid those power struggles and defiant behaviors?
Also, what does the first week look like? What are some activities and routines that work well with 6th graders?
Any advice or suggestions are greatly appreciated!
First Week: Just like with your fourth graders, set procedures and do a little "get to know you" stuff... BUT I like to jump right into content. If you want specific activities I would be happy to email them to you.
Motivation: Yes, I use a marble jar, they earn marble when the whole class is on task. I manipulate it so that they earn something apx. one time pe quarter. One time they wanted free gym time, but mostly a video was popular. We brainstorm it.
Two pieces of advice:
1) Have a sense of humor with them. I cannot tell you how important that is. Discipline can be handled this way too... I might say "Talk to the hand" or end a problem solving session with "Group Hug!!"
2) Do not get into power struggles.
They are tall and loud, you are right, but they are still little kids. They will respond to anything a fourth grader will, but be careful not to appear to be treating them like little kids.
The best thing about sixth graders... they are Funny and they are starting to have a sense of the future, and of the world
I was a preschool teacher for 13 years before teaching sixth grade. This is my 3rd year in sixth grade and I love it. I was very worried, but I soon learned sixth graders want to please and do well. They are also looking for ways to connect with school and feel like they belong.
During the first week I develop a few clear rules with my students and start to build connections with them. I have found it helps to know what my students are interested in and how they view their learning needs before problems arise. I try to avoid classroom management problems by being consistent and trying to head off problems before they get to far.
My students are part of our middle school so we are on a bell schedule. I use a tally system for wasted time if they get to 5 tallies they owe me a minute when the bell rings. This works well if used after they are familiar with the school and getting to their lockers. It usually only takes 1 or 2 times.
about how 6th graders would view "kiddy" things in classroom management. I have to agree with sassymollasi. 6th graders are so much fun. They are starting to get my dry sense of humor, they really do want to please you, and they still think you're the boss and in control. My management system is simple. "Billy, you're talking to Sam. That just cost you 5 minutes at recess." The main thing is not to get in an argument with them. Stay calm, dole out the consequences, and move on. I make a point to be busy with a paper or something so I don't have to see them roll their eyes. I hate that! I don't like muttering either. I always tell them they can think whatever they want, just don't let it cross the lips.
I'm thinking of doing a classroom theme related to rock climbing. I've climbed for years and it's a big part of my life, so I think it would be authentic even if the kids don't have much experience with it. Do 6th graders still buy into things like that? I figure it's less 'kiddy' than other themes!
Sixth graders are fantastic! I made the jump from 2nd to 6th a few years ago, and I haven't looked back!
It's helpful to be clear about your procedures and expectations from day one. I agree with the PP that said a sense of humor is important. If you can keep your sense of humor, it will be a great year! Visual management systems still work really well at this age. NEVER get into a power struggle. Explain everything in a matter of fact way. Teach them positive ways to express negative emotions. Show them unconditional love by letting every day start with a clean slate.
Your rock climbing theme is terrific! Learning to persevere is important in 6th grade, and rock climbing is all about persevering! Good luck!
I went from teaching High School, to kindergarten, to sixth grade and I loved it. I was worried about sixth grade coming from a kindergarten room, but now I just tell myself that they are all kids and you can have fun with all of them. I use a lot of responsive classroom techniques with my students. The origins website is fantastic for middle school responsive classroom ideas. My team and I usually handled most behavior problems with discussions or by taking recess away (I know YUCK!). For larger problems we had kids fill out think sheets that described what they did and how they could change it for the next time. These were then signed by their parents.
I think that the biggest thing to remember is to show them respect.
I have all the faith in the world in you. I taught third grade for 25 years, which I loved, but for the past seven years I've taught sixth grade which I've grown to love, too. Sixth graders, like everyone enjoy positive reinforcement. I 've found "no homework" passes to be very rewarding and appreciative along with extra credit points.Have a great year!
I would love to hear and learn more about your experiences with 6th grade. This will be my first teaching contract with a public school. I am familiar with 6th grade extension science labs, but have never had my own classroom. I hope that you could explain in detail some of the activities and routines you set up the first few weeks of school. I can imagine how crucial this time can be and would love any help or advice you could give.