Post # 1
I am student teaching middle school art. I was very unsure about going into middle school, but overall it has been a good experience.
It is not a surprise that the biggest frustration at this age is dealing with constant distracting behaviors from the middle school boys. ADD, hyperactive, whatever it may be… there are 2-3 in every class that are loud, disruptive, attention-hogs. They require constant attention during independent work time (which there is a LOT of in art class!). So much, that I know other kids feel ignored – kids who are doing awesome things, that I can’t give them feedback on because their classmates are taking up all of my time.
The classroom I have taken over was not a structured environment. I have been gradually imposing my own classroom management on the classes, but it is very difficult to go from “sit where you want, move seats when you want, work at whatever pace you want, talk loudly until someone yells at you to pay attention, and crowd the door waiting for the bell” to an orderly environment in which they are held to specific expectations for work and behavior.
Have I mentioned that I didn’t know middle school boys are huge whiners? And WAY more talkative than the girls? It seems unless they have my attention 100% on them at all times, they are not satisfied.
Today, I had a very structured lesson, I rearranged the room for a specific drawing setup, and tried to make them feel they were doing something very mature and advanced. It went suprisingly well, and there was less whining than I anticipated from the guys.
Tips for middle school anyone? Particularly if you teach a subject where the class requires a lot of independent work time and you don’t enforce silence. It seems like some of these kids just CAN’T tell when their voice is getting too loud, and the rest of them just don’t care because they like the attention they get when other kids hear their conversations.
Post # 3
I teach Drama and the lack of structure can be a pain (imagine 30 kids…21 being boys!) Honestly, there are alot of things that I do – but the first is I set up routines that require self regulation (a check in, getting props, warm up activites) I think as you build relationships, and personal connections, there is trust that develops and they know the boundaries. This probably doesn’t help now but in time, it might. the research on self regulation and inquiry might point you in the right direction.
As for a quick thing now – I used to give handouts with the assignment that had the mark breakdown on it. On it, I had a check list of what they had to do, a time limit beside it and the mark.
Brainstorm Scene (15 mins) 5 Marks
Another thing for volume, is a voice meter on the board. Low, Medium, High. Pointing to it when it gets too loud often gets them back in check.
There is alot of research on male learners and the need for visual engagement.
When all else fails, use humour!
Hope this helps!
Post # 4
Maybe the projects aren’t challenging enough for them? or too challenging? Just shooting in the dark…
I wanted to be an art teacher and through years of art classes I think it’s close to impossible to get the kids who don’t care to care without giving them 100% of your attention.
My favorite art class was like the one you described and it was in junior high. We did pretty much whatever we wanted, there were no deadlines, if we missed an entire project because we were so involved with the last one she didnt mind, as long as you were working and not talking the whole time. In that class the kids who were disruptive often bull shitted their way through the project in a few hours and our teacher would just give them more projects, eventually they learned to do their work so they didn’t have more due.
So maybe the boys with short attention spands need multiple projects or other classroom responsibilities to do to keep them from getting bored?
Again, just a shot in the dark haha! good luck!
Post # 5
Have you tried talking to them separately? Sometimes it helps if you make a personal appeal to them, phrased in the language of “I really need your help to make this class run smoothly.” Most kids aren’t bad at heart, and if you flatter them a bit and give them a sense of responsibility they might respond.