Any ninth grade teachers?

posted 2 years ago in Career
Post # 2
89 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

Former HS teacher. They need a LOT more structure than your juniors and seniors. They are basically junior-high schoolers, and they have very short attention spans. Expecting them to read a large chunk of material at one time is going to result in a quick loss of interest. Can you break them into reading groups (really structured groups, with the good ones as leaders)? Or use popcorn reading, and break frequently for response/discussion?

As for general behavior and classroom management, Harry Wong’s The First Days of School and Fred Jones’ Tools for Teaching were like magic salves for my freshmen. The books are designed for elementary, but the concepts are universal IME.




Post # 4
89 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

208bride:  yeah, you have to be ruthless with popcorn reading. It’s not my favorite thing, but it does keep them engaged (just make sure you have a plan to handle any kids who have disabilities/reading struggles/IEPs). Another idea is to tell them they can read as much/little as they want, as long as they read one sentence. That way, your strong readers can do more if they wish. I used to use a stuffed animal and let them choose the next “victim” by throwing it (no repeats until everyone has a turn). Another teacher bought one of those dice with like 30 sides and assigned each kid a number, so it was like a game to see who got called next. You could assign random prizes/perks if the class’s behavior has been good (ex: “You all have been really engaged today! The next number I call can choose to pass/leave 2 minutes early for lunch/skip the next quiz/whatever. Then we will get back to reading and see if it continues.”). 

Good luck! I feel for you. 9th graders are soooo hard to deal with, but I think they were actually my favorites by the time I left K-12. Once they know the rules and get into a routine, they’re tons of fun.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  .
Post # 5
27 posts

I teach 9-12th grade, often all together in one class (this is common with Art classes) and I will agree with the structure. It will help if you start and end class the same way every day so they get into a routine and know what is expected of them. I usually stand at my door and greet them as they come in, with an instruction or two on the board (get out your work from yesterday, clear off your tables, take out a pencil, etc.) and then when the bell rings, I go to the front of the room and make an announcement that we’re beginning and they need to listen up, then I wait until they’re all settled. It sounds like such a simple thing, but this routine really cuts down on the wasted time at the beginning of class. 

Also, I’ve found that freshmen REALLY need successful experiences. They need to be walked through things from very, very basic steps up to more complex tasks and if they find success in the beginning, they’re more willing and excited to tackle complex challenges later. If you dive too deep, too fast, they feel lost and check out. 

Remember that (if you’re in a traditional high school), this transition to high school is a huge adjustment for them and they’re likely still figuring out where they belong. Don’t be afraid to pull kids that need to reset themselves out of class for a minute, and heap praises on the kids that are doing well. 

This is my first semester where I’m teaching mostly juniors and seniors and it’s a whole new world for me too! They’re so mature and insightful and just CHILL. 

Post # 6
3699 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I’ve been teaching 9th grade English for 13 years 🙂 

i agree with the structure. Others said it well so I won’t repeat. 

Mid also suggest you reading to them. My students LOVE it and are much more engaged. You are a skilled reader, so you have inflection and emphasis that they don’t yet. I generally start reading myself, then move into the popcorn reading once we’ve established some knowledge of the text. I also stop every couple of paragraphs for discussion, checking for understanding, etc. 

also so break things into chuncks. I try not to have any one activity last more than 20 minutes or so. They need the variety. 

Post # 7
3996 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

208bride:  I teach seniors and freshmen English right now. In the past, I’ve taught just freshmen, so I know your struggle. Yes, the need a lot of structure. You have to bring down the hammer and keep firm on your guidelines. The difference between my senior students and freshmen is ridiculous, but they do a lot of growing up in 4 years. What is your curriculum? That would help with suggesting activities, readings, etc. 

What exactly do they do that is frustrating? Is it constant talking? Disrespect?

At the beginning of the year, we talk a lot about what it means to be a high school student and an honors student (my freshmen this year are part of our block class which is English 9 Honors and Government Honors integrated completely). I drive home the ideas of gaining privileges when they earn in. To help with talking, it really depends on your style. I’ve had some colleagues play a “game” where they tally the number of redirects in a 7-minute time frame. If there are no redirects the students earn 1 minute of free time on Friday at the end of the block/hour. Here’s the thing, you can’t expect them to act like your upperclassmen. That will only frustrate you on a daily basis. Structure your class and keep it rigid. The first 10 minutes are for a writing warm up and then discussion, the second we discuss some idea or concept surrounding the focus of the class period or class periods, we move into a reading or activity to help with that concept while working on reading skills, and then into another group discusssion, an individual activity, etc. depending on the day. 

What about taking some time and having them do a writing on their goals/aspirations for both during and after high school? Really help them focus in on what they hope to accomplish and how they are going to make that happen. That way when you have discipline issues you can pull that out in your talk with a kid, something like “X, you said you want to attend so-and-so college and work towards… How is this behavior going to make achieving that goal more challenging?” 

Also…what about having your upperclassmen come and talk about what it’s like to be the upperclassment. The privileges they receive for reaching that stage, etc. 

In regards to readings…do NOT always read to them, but I would suggest always starting a reading with them (maybe the first paragraph or half a page) and modeling active reading or whatever strategy you want them to use that day. They can see you in action and then use that to guide them through the process. That takes a lot of the pressure off of them. I also am using AVID strategies with my kids (our school is hoping to be a demo school) and they have some excellent reading strategies. One of my favorite has to do with a reading process that requires them to slow down and read, re-read, and create questions based on a level system. PM me if you want the details.

Sorry…that was long, but freshmen have been my life until this year. 

Post # 10
3996 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

208bride:  We’ve noticed this a bit with our freshmen too. Even a few of my honors students. The talking is becoming a huge issue with the younger grades, which is ridiculous. Shut your friggin mouth and you won’t have to ask twenty times what’s going on. So here’s what I’d try:

1. Institute a new rule. You will say the instructions once and once only. They must ask a certain number of students quietly what is going on before they can even approach you. If they don’t listen, call them out. “You chose to talk and ask the soy sauce question in the middle of instructions. Ask 3 classmates what you are supposed to be doing.” And walk away. Their peers will get so annoyed with them constantly being the responsible one they’ll start calling each other out. 

2. This is going to seem extreme, but start issuring referrals or sending kids to a partner room/office with those silly questions. They are only meant to distract, so show them you no longer tolerate irrelevant and silly questions. 

3. Start those entry tasks! Maybe make the warm up writing for the second half of class. They come back from lunch, sit down, and write on the topic you have on the board for 5 minutes to bring them back into the focus for class. This way they get in the habit of entering quietly and getting right to work. 

And no, I don’t think it’s ever too late to try to mend bridges and figure out a way to build relationships. Talk them up a lot. They need it. I always try to mention how much I love freshmen (which I do most days) and telling them when I brag on how well they did on certain assignments. They feel like the outcasts and are trying to act grown up when they’re still so far away. 

Maybe ask this question…What does a successful classroom look like? Tell them to think about all aspects of a classroom. The teacher, students, structure. See what comes of that and use their own words when reminding of your expectations. 

Post # 11
3996 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

208bride:  Oh! One last thing…don’t beat yourself up so much. Teaching freshmen is hard as is training them to act like adults and be successful in high school. It’s not going to ever be perfect, but you WILL get them to a more mature, responsible place. Trust me. It just takes time. 

Post # 12
693 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

208bride:  I teach middle schoolers.  Structure is KEY.  

About the popcorn reading – I really don’t recommend it.  In my experience, those who don’t care aren’t really going to stay engaged.  I use something called “Say Something.”  Kylene Beers’ book: When Kids Can’t Read is an amazing resource of activities that are helpful for all kids.

By employing this, they are accountable (they work in pairs), and you can monitor as they read, and you walk around.  Right now, we’re working on main idea/detail/summary writing, so we’re reading informative texts (Newsela rocks, btw).  I have kids read and annotate, and after every section/page/paragraph/whatever I decide, they have to “say something” to their partner and their partner has to respond.  The book gives great sentence frames.  I teach below grade level kids and the conversations I’m hearing are amazing.

Then, what they read/discuss becomes something they use for text dependent questions (the new Fisher/Frey book about Complex Texts is great: and then it becomes a summary.  When we’re done with this unit, they will continue this routine and it will be added to with argument writing as well.

I know it sounds REALLY silly, but CFU for instructions.  Explain what you expect, and then call on your students (however you do it, randomly, popsicle sticks, cards, etc) to explain what the instructions are.  I use Lemov’s technique of No Opt Out (from Teach Like a Champion) so kids HAVE to answer what the instructions are.  If they can’t, another student helps, but they have to repeat.  Get at least 3 of them to do it. Remember, if you call on 3 students at random, and they answer correctly, statistically, you have 80% of your kids.

If you have ANY questions, PM me.  I LOVE middle school, crazy as it is. 🙂

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