20 Strategies to Use Right Now for Teaching Middle School

Middle school is all about the moment, and when you’ve got a toolkit of strategies to use, you’ll be ready for anything.

These twenty strategies will get you started.


  1. Keep a supply of Post-it notes handy. Use them to create impromptu bar graphs, create a “parking lot” for questions, or as notes on which to write answers for an “exit ticket.”
  2. Be yourself. Kids will love you if you show that you’re human.
  3. Share your excitement. If you’re passionate about what you’re teaching, your students will be excited, too.
  4. Allow for choice. Ask your students to do the even problems or the odd ones. Let them pick the writing topic or determine whether to create a slideshow or a video.
  5. Rely on routine, but add novelty. Middle-schoolers still need predictable routines, but they also love surprises. Rewards, stories, and small treats fit the bill.
  6. Plan your lessons, but always have one perfect lesson to fall back on when things don’t go right.
  7. Take advantage of the middle school student’s need to socialize by encouraging 60-second conversations with an “elbow partner.” Ask an open-ended question related to the lesson and let them discuss it.
  8. Read aloud to your students. Middle school students still like being read to. Try a poem, a quick anecdote or an expository paragraph. Model the way you want them to experience the text.
  9. Teach using multiple modalities. Middle school students tend to be kinesthetic and tactile learners, so create activities that get kids moving.
  10. Use games to review before a test.
  11. Allow students to add doodles and drawing to their notes. These pictures help the visual learner retain information.
  12. Be random. Add a surprise picture to a slideshow you use in your instruction. Kids enjoy seeing sports figures, celebrities, and even animals doing crazy things.
  13. Give feedback. Not every assignment may require a grade, but students need to know you’re evaluating their work, or they’ll quit doing it.

Classroom Management

  1. Have one reliable attention-getter, and use it consistently. Try cues like “If you can hear the sound of my voice clap once” or count backward to silence from five (5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . . Shh!)
  2. Provide the plan. Middle school students like to do things on their own, but they need to see the steps you want them to take. Show each phase of a project or give specific directions for an assignment.
  3. Allow for laughter. Life is funny. So is middle school. Find and enjoy the humor, as long as you don’t let anyone laugh at another person.
  4. Get kids moving. Students at this age need to move as much as they need to socialize. Have everyone stand up/sit down when answering questions.
  5. Find positives and share them. Please take a few minutes each day to call parents and let them know something good about their child.
  6. Soften the lights, especially the day before holiday break or during inclement weather. By avoiding the use of fluorescent lighting in your classroom, you’ll help students feel less agitated.
  7. Enforce your rules consistently. Model the behavior you want from your students. If they aren’t supposed to yell in the classroom, you shouldn’t be doing it, either.

With these tips, both your students and you will enjoy class and get more out of the lessons.

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