Keep the classroom organized. Typically, in grades 6-8, students have multiple teachers and are in and out of several classrooms in one day. Make sure materials are organized and that each class has a place to turn in work, look for missed assignments, and keep their belongings while learning within your class environment.
Be consistent and ensure that your expectations are clear. Older students are very capable of following guidelines carefully, but they are also well aware when they can get away with things too. Model your expectations and be consistent about consequences and rewards. Stick to your plan and make sure it aligns with the guidelines set forth in your school's or district's student handbook.
Learn student names as fast as possible. With so many faces in front of you each day, this can be tricky. The sooner you learn their names, the sooner you can get to know them and understand their learning needs.
Get their attention first. Before beginning your class, make sure you have all of your students' full attention. Students should be ready to start when the bell rings. Set up a routine so learners make the most of their time in your classroom. When you are ready to begin, students should be focused on you.
Give students a task to complete when they come into class each day. Often referred to as a "do now" or a "bell ringer," students will know to ready their materials for class and get started right away. A bell ringer is a short activity and can be completed on paper or digitally. Possibilities might include a critical thinking activity such as a Sudoku puzzle, a Quizlet, a riddle, an editing exercise, an opinion question, or a nonfiction text feature scavenger hunt. Students might work in a notebook, on a sticky note, in Google docs, or through other digital learning tools. With a warm-up routine in place, disruptions and wasted time will be minimized, and you will be able to make the most of the entire class period.
If you work within a team of teachers, consistency among the group can be helpful and important. Work together to establish rewards and consequences. This can be beneficial to all.
Don't hesitate to ask for advice when needed. Ask for tips from colleagues if needed. Connect with others in your subject area and grade level.