Author Ben Johnson may have said it best. “Squirrels. That is what they remind me of. We were all that age once and we were all just like squirrels! Have you ever watched a squirrel? Zoom, freeze for two seconds, flick tail, and repeat. The trick for being a successful middle school teacher is holding their attention for more than just those few seconds. Believing that that is possible requires a huge leap of faith and trust.” A high functioning Assistant principal needs to have the same idea in mind when dealing with adolescent students.
When dealing with students of this nature three attributes come to mind; firm, patient and dynamic.
Being firm is a key attribute as an Assistant Principal. Maintaining order within the school is a key component to the daily operations. Middle level students are smarter than they may act. When behaviors are accepted within a school, the culture can take a change as others will jump on board. When addressing student behavior an Assistant Principal needs to be consistent with consequences. Students need to understand that there are expectations, rules, and procedures that are put in place to keep everyone safe. If there is lapse within this process, issues may arise.
To cut down on behavior episodes, a administrative team needs to set up a culture with firm procedures that have been explicitly stated at the start of the year. It is important that when sharing these procedures with students, it comes across in ways other than lecture. By incorporating role plays, scavenger games, and assemblies, students get the message by ways other than lecture. When schools set up clear expectations and rules, students have an understanding of what to expect each day.
It also important to be firm ...
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...hool culture. Studies have shown school culture has a direct correlation on student achievement. By creating student incentives for reading, writing, and other school achievements, student work can be increased. This can be done through offering incentive based opportunities. An example could be a field day in the afternoon, field trips, or a snacks before a big test. Procedures are great, but when a fun incentive is thrown within the mix every once in a while it shows the students that staff really cares.
The three attributes listed above help control the inner “squirrel” of a middle level student. During a time where there are drastic changes in a students social, emotional, and identity trials, students need someone who is “real.” By displaying these attributes, an administrator can provide an enticing, engaging and safe environment within the school.
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