The phrase that got me hired? “Oh, I LOVE 9th grade!”
Which is true.
But it takes a really special type of person to teach 9th grade (or so I’ve been told).
Why do I love 9th graders? Well, they’re finally coming into their own. They’re not sure whether they’re a high schooler or a middle schooler. They’re just starting to get real responsibilities (like driving). And, they’re developing their personalities. Ninth grade is a really special time for them. And I get to be a positive part of it (or at least I try to be).
When I first started, I didn’t even have a decade on my students. I was just 9 years older than they were. And my first year was tumultuous, to say the least. Actually, let’s not even go there. As I accepted the small age gap between myself (the adult in the room) and my students, my classroom management style changed drastically. I realized that my students saw me as a big-sister role rather than a real-adult role. So, instead of being a huge nag, I started trying to be funny. I let out my inner dork and got more comfortable being so. I am a natural smart-aleck. This helps immensely. I also learned how to dress myself (thanks Pinterest!) and have gotten a little more respect that way (am not kidding here).
So, how do you teach 9th graders effectively?
- Have a sense of humor.
- Be patient.
- Give lots of friendly reminders.
- Have boundaries.
- Set high, but reasonable, expectations – they will meet them.
- Be excited about your content area.
- Understand that the content will be hard for (some of) them.
- Checklists, checklists, checklists!
And the most important thing – truly care about your student’s wellbeing.