These 7 tips will give you the reassurance you need to conquer those pre-teen students.

1. Be prepared.

If you aren’t prepared from the start you might lose them. The younger students are a little easier to bluff; these big kids know that you’re fresh meat so they will be armed and ready to push you. Being prepared is your best defence. Have engaging activities ready in case the teacher leaves no work for you.

2. Use rewards.

Older students still love stickers, particularly novelty ones, even if they might pretend to be too cool for them. Games work the best. Have some quiet indoor games you can do after they finish their work and perhaps have an outdoor game as an enticer for the end of the day. See this post for ideas

3. Behaviour Strategies.

Decide on a strategy early on and explain it to the class. Don’t be afraid to introduce others as you learn a little more about the class. If they are a chatty class, use a whole class strategy. If it is just individual students misbehaving, tailor their consequences accordingly.

4. Engage them.

Use a foam ball or a hacky sack to engage students in lessons. If a student is holding a ball they can read out aloud or answer a question. It’s amazing how quick they are to focus for the chance to hold a small ball!

5. Real life.

Use your life experiences and theirs as examples relevant to their learning. This helps everyone to get to know each other better as well as making learning more relevant and relatable. It also helps break down some barriers if they can learn a little about you and makes you seem more human to the students.

6. Silence is golden.

Wait, wait and wait some more. Wait until you can’t wait anymore. Do not, I repeat, do not, try to teach over a noisy class. It is crucial to your teaching and their learning that they are all quiet while you are giving instructions. Don’t yell and rant and rave to get their attention. Wait at the front with your arms folded and they will soon get the hint and start whispering to each other “Shh. She’s waiting.” “Quiet guys.” Once you hear silence, that is your cue to thank them for their attention but inform them that it should not take that long to be quiet. If it happens again there will be ____________ consequence.

7. Take control.

That being said, sometimes the noise can be a little too much and teachers next door might just think you don’t have control and intervene. You don’t want to come off incompetent so if they aren’t catching on quickly use another strategy such as writing a message on the board, or writing up ‘Time in’ along with minutes adding up the longer it takes them to settle. But still try not yell and see them lose your cool. It will give them more power and motivation to push you more.

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