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How to Teach Junior High

Teaching is a tough job, but you can't go wrong if you start out by being prepared, organized, and sensitive to your students' needs.


  • TIP: Relieve the tension as the term runs its course. It's important to for them to have fun, to be allowed periodic breaks, and to know they matter. But be cautious; don't let them confuse you for a peer.
  • Step 1: Insist that students keep journals and allow time at the beginning of class each day for them to write an entry, which has the added bonus of creating quiet in the room. Write prompts on the board to invite responses that kick start the process.
  • Step 2: Create recognitions for student achievements at the end of each semester to reinforce what they have learned and to ensure their pride in the accomplishment. School should be a positive experience.
  • FACT: Nearly 15 million American middle school students were enrolled in 2009, and enjoyed a teacher to student ratio of 15 to two, better than twice as good as 1999's 16 to one ratio.
  • Step 3: Use physical activities to engage the students, as kids often learn by doing. Teach grammar through team contests to construct sentences on the board, or build symbolic essay parts with toy structures. Keep the pacing brisk to hold their attention.
  • Step 4: Announce high expectations for behavior and grades and explain what this means in your class. Adjustments will have to be made on an individual basis, you will spend extra time with some kids to help them keep up.
  • Step 5: Set the tone by looking professional and well-groomed. Junior high students are looking for role models and will watch everything you do. Introduce yourself briefly and let the kids share details about themselves.
  • TIP: Keep your private life separate and don't take calls at home. You need to have time to recharge, too.
  • Step 6: Arrange the room's seating so that you can limit distractions from outside, direct attention to the board, and separate trouble makers.
  • Step 7: Get ideas on realistic goals and effective techniques from veteran teachers in whatever classes you've been assigned: English, Language Arts, Math, Music, Science, or History. Observe the teachers in their own classes to emulate proven styles.

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