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Middle school is an exciting class range to teach, as the students are becoming more independent and thoughtful. Even with their increased skills, it is still important to have rules in place that help to manage the chaos. There are a lot of different strategies that teachers employ to keep their class moving along without too many distractions.

Many of the rules for your middle school classroom should follow these guidelines:
  • Rules should be broad-based and allow the children some latitude to make their own decisions
  • Rules need to be clear, even when they are flexible
  • Rather than a list of Don’ts the rules should encourage productive behavior

8 Classroom rules for middle schoolers

One of the most interesting that we have come across is the use of hand signals when raising their hands. This is an effective non-verbal way to approve or deny their request with minimal distraction to the class.

Whether you decide to integrate hand signals into your class or not, it is important to have a set of clearly defined rules so that your class understands your behavior expectations. Middle school is a time when you want your students to begin flexing their independence muscles and operating with less direction.

1. Take responsibility

Students should be encouraged, and then expected, to take responsibility for small tasks such as making sure that their pencils are sharpened and that they have everything they need at the start of the day. There is no reason for a parade of students to interrupt class to take care of such things.

2. Be prepared

Similar to the rule above, it is important that your middle schoolers learn the importance of being prepared each and every day. This includes having all homework completed, having the necessary supplies, and to be focused and attentive during class time. Preparation is a great way to teach your students about how extra effort at the start of the day or the beginning of a project can make the process go much more smoothly.

3. Co-grading and collaboration

One beneficial strategy is the idea of co-grading. Students trade with a partner and grade their papers as you review the correct answers. Be sure to allow time during the co-grading to discuss any questions or comments in real-time. This method has the added bonus of lightening your grading load! Using this method for straightforward quizzes, such as vocabulary or multiple-choice tests, can help the children to feel more engaged with the overall learning process.

4. Hall pass procedure

There will be times when your students need to leave the class to use the restroom, for example. Make sure that there is a procedure in place for requesting hall passes. Encourage your students to use break time efficiently, and work to curtail repeat use of the passes.

5. Innovative rules in the classroom

Some middle school teachers have adopted the use of hand signals to allow more non-verbal communication as they find it to be less disruptive. This is an interesting approach that may not work equally well for all teachers. When students have signals for a question, they need to use the restroom or sharpen their pencils, the teacher can also respond in a non-verbal manner.

6. Don’t disrupt class when an aide or another faculty member enters the classroom

Middle school students still have a lot of exuberance that they aren’t always able to control. Instill in them the idea that it is inappropriate to call out or jump out of their desks when a favorite aide or another teacher enters the room. Prompt them by saying, “Let’s all say hello to Mr. Smith, class” which allows them to show their affection in a much less disruptive manner.

7. Have a procedure for students that are feeling ill

We all know how convenient a trip to the nurse’s office can be for students that are looking for an unscheduled break from class! To circumvent “fake” illnesses, keep a supply of band-aids on hand and have a few in-class remedies for common ailments. Encourage your students to rest their eyes and put their head on their desks to see if they feel better, or encourage them to take a few deep breaths.