Middle school is a significant transition period for students. They start switching classes, having more autonomy, and testing boundaries. You must structure your middle school classes to account for these big shifts in behavior. You can follow certain tips to get started on the right foot each class period.
The key to this is establishing a dependable routine, and the best place to start is bell work. We’ll walk you through middle school bell work strategies so your class can start off on the right foot.
Bellwork is the activity you plan for the time between class changes and five minutes after the bell.
With bellwork, you are accomplishing a lot. It is a true workhorse in the classroom. Here are some things that bell work accomplishes in the middle grades classroom:
So you’re accomplishing a lot in the first few minutes of class. Bell work is essential for running a better-managed classroom. Not only this, the formative assessment data you gain for bell work can fuel your lesson for the day, making you a more in-tune teacher for your students.
One of the biggest issues facing middle school teachers is classroom management. (Trust us, it’s not just you and your classroom.)
That’s because adolescents are still developing in their prefrontal cortex. This is where your students get their decision-making, emotion-regulating, and executive function skills.
If you have ever walked into your classroom and thought your students seemed out of control, it may be time to introduce bell work into your routine. A start to the class that includes a bell ringer will cause students to focus on the task at hand. They will enter the class and be more productive.
The best time to start a bellwork routine is at the beginning of the year, but it’s never too late to start. Here are the steps to get you on track with your middle school classroom bell work.
Greeting your students at the door may not sound like a vital step in bell work, but this is the best way to get successful bellwork going in your class.
Part of what makes starting class so challenging is that many middle schoolers are new at changing classes. A lot is going on at class change time. First, middle schoolers have to wrestle with their lockers. Then, they have to remember to get everything they need. Then they must prioritize the rest of this time by socializing or using the restroom. It’s a lot.
Students come to class feeling dysregulated. But you can change that. Studies show that greeting students at the door leads to higher engagement and less savory behavior. When students enter your classroom, they are more likely to work hard for you (and start bell work).
It’s simple to greet students at the door. It may feel odd at first because you may not know your students so well. But once you get over that hump, it is a bright spot to the day. You will be amazed at how much your students will open up to you during these exchanges.
Once your students greet you in the day, have their bell work ready for them. The directions for bellwork should be in the same place every day, and students should come to expect this assignment.
You are also accessible to answer questions during class change because you are standing in the doorway greeting students as they come in.
One of the best ways to manage classroom behavior in middle school is simply by being consistent. Being consistent signals to your students that the expectations are the same every day. It’s the most proactive way to manage discipline issues in the classroom.
Stay consistent on things like:
Your students will soon settle into a routine, and the start of class will go smoother.
There will always be a time when you forget to prepare bellwork. Don’t ditch your routine. Instead, have some extra no-prep activities that you can save for these moments. Here are some examples:
These also work great for subfolders as well.
One of the best ways for students to take bellwork more seriously in your classroom is by keeping a consistent and graded daily routine. But how do you keep up with all of the collecting and grading of bellwork?
With TeacherMade, you can create online bell work in minutes. Take the worksheets you already have, and upload them into TeacherMade’s system. You can also program an answer sheet to auto-grade assignments.
Then all you have to do is post a link to your class’s LMS program (Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas) and create the routine of students completing bell work each day online.
With TeacherMade, you can have a hands-off approach to bell work to simplify your day!