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Behavior Management Tips for the Last Few Months of the School Year

Use these behavior management tips to survive the last few months of the year and make it a great experience for you and your students.

I can spot it on the horizon! Yep, the end of the school year is just around the bend. We’re almost there! But before we bid farewell, there are a few more student shenanigans to navigate. Let’s face it. As the year wraps up, those quirky behaviors tend to make a comeback. We’re all feeling the fatigue – teachers and students alike. The summer daydream is starting to take over, making it a bit of a challenge to keep everyone focused. That’s why today we are talking about end-of-the-year behavior management tips. While I may not have a magic wand to share, these tips are almost as magical! Let’s see how we can gear up for a successful finale!

Behavior Management is Important in a Middle School Classroom

First, let’s dive into why nailing behavior management is crucial for a successful classroom. The last few months of the school year can be a little crazy when working with our lively middle schoolers. They’re old enough to know that summer break is on the horizon, and they’re excited! But don’t fret, all hope is not lost! With established routines and clear expectations, your classroom becomes a smooth operating system. When in place, we can effortlessly handle the challenges that come with the end-of-year buzz.

Middle schoolers, brimming with energy and summer daydreams, can easily veer off course without proper guidance. That’s where reliable behavior management strategies step in. Yes, it’s about maintaining order, but also about creating an environment conducive to learning. By setting straightforward boundaries and reinforcing positive behaviors, we’re taming chaos. At the same time, we’re creating an atmosphere where those “aha” moments can flourish.

With middle schoolers full of energy and ready for summer, a solid behavior management plan is not only important but essential.

In these last months, when distractions peak, effective behavior management becomes our ally in ensuring every moment in the classroom contributes to the overall success of our students’ academic journeys. So, let’s explore some of the behavior management tips that will help set ourselves and our students up for success!

Behavior Management Tips for Middle School Classrooms

I’m excited to share some tips I have learned throughout my years in the classroom! These tips can be tweaked to fit your style and rapport with your students. I hope to give you a starting point that inspires you to test these out in your own classroom and make the changes from there that feel right to you.

Tip #1 Consistency is Key

Let’s talk about the backbone of a well-managed classroom, which is our dear ole’ friend, consistency. Each year, at the start of the year, I sit down to review and reflect on my classroom rules. Are they clear? Relevant and realistic? I even ask students to get involved by helping them come up with rules that help them take ownership throughout the school year.

Keep your behavior management consistent to get the best results for you and your students.

I recommend starting by crafting clear, no-nonsense rules that align with your teaching approach. Then, post them visibly, making it a daily visual cue for your students. I have them posted on one of my boards where they can be seen easily. The secret is to stick to those rules like clockwork. Whether it’s a pat on the back for a job well done or a redirecting look or motion for a slip-up, let your responses be consistent. Don’t be afraid to stop what you’re doing and review the rules and expectations together. Reminders show them you’re serious and remind them what they need to be doing.

Now, onto the positive side of consistency. Regularly acknowledge those commendable behaviors. I have used a range of systems throughout the years. It can be a classroom kudos certificate or a simple note home. Build an environment where your students know the expectations, and they also know that you’re in their corner.

Tip #2 Positive Reinforcement

This next behavior management tip builds on the positive note we ended on in the first tip. Positive reinforcement works wonders when it becomes a personal or shared victory. Your rapport with your students skyrockets when there is an acknowledgment of their success, no matter the size.

Use positive reinforcement strategies in your behavior management plan like ClassDojo to motivate your students to be on their best behavior.

Positive reinforcement works wonders when it becomes a personal or shared victory. Consider a class-wide reward system, turning positive behavior into a collective win. I personally keep a tally on one of our boards in our classroom. Others use digital platforms, such as Class Dojo, to do a whole class or individual scores. It can also be as simple as a public shoutout with a certificate, a discreet note home, or a rewards system. The power is in your hands.

Keep in mind that you need to be specific in your praise. Point out the exact stellar behavior you’ve noticed. It boosts the individual and sets a benchmark for others. Create a cycle of positivity that elevates your classroom atmosphere.

Tip #3 Student Involvement and Responsibility

One way we can empower our middle schoolers is by giving them a say in the rulebook. Involve them in setting the expectations. One of my favorite activities at the beginning of the year is having a class discussion with my different classes about what they think should be the rules and expectations for their time in the room. I like hearing their insights, and they’re usually pretty reflective. We have a refresh when we return from winter break and sometimes a reminder session in the spring! At the end of the day, we all have a shared responsibility for how we act, talk, and treat others in the classroom. When students have a hand in creating the guidelines, they’re more likely to own up to them.

get students working together on classroom expectations and they will build a sense of community as they work together

Now, let’s talk about responsibilities. Assign tasks within the classroom, giving each student a role to play. Some possible ideas include teacher’s assistants, paper passers, supply managers, and clean-up crew. This fosters a sense of accountability. When our students feel invested in the class dynamics, they’re more likely to uphold the standards they’ve helped set.

Tip #4 Clear Communication

Communication is the glue that holds a well-managed classroom together. Regular check-ins are a good practice to get into with your students. Middle schoolers navigating the tricky waters of adolescence appreciate being heard. Schedule individual and group check-ins to address concerns and celebrate successes. It’s about creating a space where they feel seen and valued while being given feedback.

check in with students individually or as a class

While explaining an assignment, activity, or project, be crystal clear in your instructions. Our dear middle schoolers think they know best in all situations and will twist what we say, so being as clear and straightforward as possible is key. Smoothly guide them through transitions with concise communication. Middle schoolers can be like expert navigators in a sea of distractions, so make directions clear, concise, and on point. Effective communication is the key to building a supportive environment. We can elevate our classroom dynamics through the power of clear, open dialogue.

Tip #5 Behavior Management is Flexible with Fair Consequences

As we may have all discovered, there is a delicate balance of flexibility and fairness in managing behavior. Our end goal is to have a fair system of consequences that keeps everyone accountable without being overly rigid. Flexibility doesn’t mean leniency. It means understanding. I don’t know about you, but I have days that I slept on the wrong side of the bed, and it triggered a series of unfortunate events for the rest of the day. Our students have off days like this as well. So, it’s so important to have a rapport with our students so we can be open to discussions and give some grace.

Capturing your students' interest and making learning enjoyable happens with engaging lessons.

When it comes to discipline, have a clear set of consequences, but be willing to listen. Understand the context and adjust consequences accordingly. This is something I am still working on because it’s natural for humans to react. You’re trying to get through a lesson and are constantly being disrupted. Patience isn’t going to be high, and sometimes, there is a snap that happens that has us reacting. However, it’s about finding that middle ground where accountability meets understanding. This approach not only maintains order but also forms a culture of fairness in our classrooms. It’s up to us to ensure our students know that consequences are not just about correction but also about learning and growth.

Tip #6 Engaging Lessons and Activities

Time to turn your classroom into an engaging hub of knowledge! Capturing your students’ interest and making learning enjoyable happens with engaging lessons. Middle schoolers are at that age where the mundane just won’t cut it. Craft lessons that resonate with their interests and include interactive activities that bring the subject matter to life.

Middle schoolers need to have clear instructions and minimal downtime.

Consider real-world applications that connect the math skills you’re focusing on to practice. The more engaged they are, the less room there is for wandering minds. There’s less temptation to sidetrack their peers and themselves with chatting, sneaking onto cellphones, or being silly in general. At the end of the day, we want to create an environment where curiosity thrives and doesn’t get blocked by distractions.

Tip #7 Mindful Transitions Between Activities

As teachers, we most likely have some tolerance for chaos. We recognize that our classrooms will not be a voice level 0 at all times. Classrooms can have noise, but on the other hand, learning takes time and focus. Our time for each class period is precious, and we want every minute possible. Being able to transition your middle schoolers from arriving into class to starting the first activity, to between activities, to wrapping up class and dismissing is a major key to successful behavior management. Middle schoolers are still kids, and they need to have clear instructions and minimal downtime. I always provide a heads-up 5 minutes before transitioning so they know to start wrapping up what they’re working on or start cleaning up supplies.

I use visual cues or timers to signal upcoming changes. There are so many digital timers if you search on YouTube with fun backgrounds, music, and different types of buzzers to signal the end. This helps my students mentally prepare for the shift and minimizes the chances of disruptions.

Tip #8 Regular Student Check-ins

Who loves having their voices heard? I hope you all raised your hands! When our voices are heard, we feel valued and part of the larger group.

A sense of humor helps build connections in the classroom.

I implement student check-ins to keep open communication between myself and my students. Think of these check-ins as your classroom health check. I use these check-ins to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

I do individual check-ins with students to provide a space for them to express concerns or share successes. Group check-ins also work wonders because they grow a sense of community within your class. My goal with these check-ins is to create an open dialogue, making students feel heard and understood.

I know what you are thinking, “I don’t have time to get through all the curriculum as it is.” I get it. There is much to do. But building relationships with your students is one thing that will pay off. At a minimum, try to weave these check-ins into your homeroom class, which generally is a little longer than the other classes.

Tip #9 Add a Sense of Humor to Your Behavior Management

A well-timed joke or a humorous comment can turn a potential hiccup into a moment of shared laughter. It’s not about being a stand-up comedian but making you more approachable to your students. Sometimes, I try to incorporate amusing examples or even funny visuals into my lessons to catch my middle schoolers’ attention.

Reviewing expectations keeps everyone on the same page.

A sense of humor not only makes your class more enjoyable but also helps in building connections with your students. This comes in handy when having to diffuse a situation. Sometimes, a quirky comment or a quick comeback is all that is needed to bring a student back on track. We need to read the room first and know the students with whom we are interacting to gauge whether humor is the route to go.

Tip #10 Review, Refresh, and Review Your Expectations

I briefly touched on how important it is to review your expectations and even give them a refresh as the year goes on. Dynamics change and new situations arise that you may need to come together as a whole class to address. If I have learned anything, it’s better to address situations head-on than hope that the issue disappears. Plus, we’re all humans and need reminders from time to time. I know that I do!

Doodle Wheels can help review some common classroom expectations.

During these review and refresh discussions, I revisit the expectations. I ask my students for feedback and to think about what’s working well and where adjustments can be made. This collaborative approach not only keeps everyone on the same page but also creates a sense of shared responsibility.

I think about whether there have been changes in the classroom dynamic, individual needs, or external factors that may impact our learning space. Maybe there’s a need to tweak certain rules or emphasize particular expectations. Being flexible in adjusting expectations ensures they remain relevant and effective throughout the school year.

To help you lead these review and refresh sessions, I have created a Classroom Expectations Doodle Wheel that reviews some of the common classroom expectations, such as being respectful and raising hands to be called on. I also included a blank template that you can use to include your desired expectations that fit your classroom!

You can use this at the beginning of the year and refer back to it for review or use it as an interactive review of expectations at any time during the year.

Make Behavior Management in Middle School a Breeze

As we set our sights on the approaching horizon of summer break, I hope you find yourself prepared with examples of effective behavior management tips. These tips will help you be consistent, increase positive reinforcement and student involvement, and have clear communication.

Stay consistent with classroom rules.

Enjoy the humor-infused moments and the thoughtful check-ins because each moment contributes to the success of a well-managed classroom. So, here’s to each one of you. You have been giving it your all this year, and by using these behavior management tips you’ll be smooth sailing throughout the last few months!

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Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



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