Reply To: middle school classroom management/technique/style

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From my experiences teaching percussion at the high school level, sometimes students that seem like they cannot pay attention for more than three seconds are either bored, or do not have enough changing stimuli (especially if none of them actually have a form of ADD, which is also a debated issue). I have one student that, when in a full ensemble setting, is constantly a behavior problem, but when we split into sectionals and they get individualized attention and there is constantly changing stimuli with new and exciting things going on, he is fine. Snare exercises can sometimes be boring and too much like work; maybe give them a percussion ensemble piece or make your own with the same rudiments or rhythms from the snare exercise to make things more interesting and musical. This could also be something they can perform for the class, or for a grade, which will hopefully motivate them enough to work together and produce a good end product. Also, if you put the students together by themselves you absolutely need to appoint a good leader (like Andrea Feige also mentioned in her response) that can take charge and keep the group on task and be able to compromise with the differing ideas of the group, or else you end up with everyone yelling at each other and nothing getting done. I also agree with Andrea’s idea of using worksheets to keep the students fully engaged even when working with other groups. You can make worksheets that encompass the rhythm reading, vocab, and listening journal aspects of your lessons now, and take turns working with each section individually while the others do these worksheets to turn in for a grade. I guess the main issue is you need to keep the students engaged and interested at all times or else behavior problems occur. I am an avid believer in setting goals and expectations for students and holding them accountable (with grades), especially if the class is curricular. I hope this helps.