50 Middle Schoolers!
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February 28, 2014 at 9:37 am #35260
I am in my first year of teaching and have inherited a class of 50 middle schoolers (grades 7-8). Managing them has been a real task, especially when most of the cellos are rambunctious boys. I am getting discouraged and was wondering what are some great management techniques that you have to control a large classroom?March 14, 2014 at 9:28 am #35735
Keep them playing as much as you possibly can. Downtime is dangerous. It’s hard to misbehave when you are playing. I have my orchestra play a song while I am taking attendance. It keeps them busy and also helps them learn to listen and stay together since I can’t conduct and take attendance at the same time. Good luck to you!May 23, 2014 at 11:44 am #37336
I’ve had success in similar situations with student conductors – start by training a few very responsible students to lead warm-ups at the beginning of class, then fold some of the more rambunctious boys into your mix of student leaders. Not only is it nice to see these types of students rise to a challenge or leadership role, but they may then realize how difficult and frustrating it can be to try to lead a group when others are talking or off task. Hopefully, this realization will help them to change their own behavior in rehearsals! It can take a little while to get this sort of routine running smoothly, but once you do, it’s really nice to have that 10 minutes or so at the beginning of class to take care of administrative stuff (attendance, checking practice logs, organizing music, etc) while the students rehearse themselves!
Good luck – despite it being a big group to manage, I’m so jealous of your numbers! What a great big group of middle schoolers!October 13, 2014 at 11:06 pm #42045
I am currently in my senior year of college and I am getting the opportunity to observe a 6th, 7th, and 8th grade orchestra once a week (each class having over 40 students). They are the most disciplined classrooms I have ever observed! The teacher has established the routine of being in your seats, tuning with a tuner, then moving on to the “vibrato exercise” immediately in this sequence when the bell rings for class. The students follow the sequence and occasionally need a reminder that they should not be talking and working on their exercise.
The “vibrato exercise” is when students practice the hand motions of vibrato silently until the teacher gives further instructions. This is a great way to get the classroom quiet and focused on their vibrato fundamentals. This exercise can easily get transferred over to your repertoire that you are working on in rehearsal. This technique can provide good classroom management for the start of class. There are always those students that need help tuning at the start of class, and this exercise gives you the opportunity to assist those students while everyone is quietly working. (Also, you can take attendance in peace!)
Another aspect that I noticed about this teacher was he made it clear from day one of classes that when he is on the podium there is no talking. Some days there are slight problems with talking but the teacher simply has to point to the “Expectation Poster” and students immediately stop talking!
I wish you the best of luck!October 21, 2014 at 9:40 pm #42218
In interviewing my old band teacher he gave me a bit of advice that i think you should take into consideration. He told me that if you remember one thing it should be when you first start a job you must be strict. This lets your students know that you won’t mess around. After the first year or so the students will realize that you mean business and that you can relax your atmosphere a bit.
To me this means make sure the students know that you are not afraid to make them face consequences. Of course warn them but then give them the detention or whatever form of discipline you feel fit. The students will respond quickly if they think “oh I really can get in trouble” rather than feeling like you are a push-over and they do not need to listen.
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