This week's entry comes from ms_teacher, a "wife, mother and middle school teacher" whose blog I subscribe to and you should as well!
My number one piece of advice would be to pick your battles. I think that this is much easier for veteran teachers to do than those just coming in because of the fear that if you give in one area, the students might expect to walk all over you. However, I believe that if a new teacher really sits down to reflect on what their ideal classroom should look like, they can get an idea of what behaviors and/or expectations are worth standing your ground on. For instance, I have learned over the years that the bigger deal that I make out of students chewing gum, the less time I have to do what I'm paid to do, which is to teach my students. My students are told that I do not mind if they chew gum as long as I don't see it or hear it. I have less problems with it ending up on my desks, students know that if I see them chomping away, they almost immediately get up and throw it away w/o me even asking!
For me, battling over gum was futile. Middle school students love to chew gum. By allowing them to chew gum, I have less problems with behavior and more time with on task time and learning.
Read more about this project here or add the 52 teachers 52 lessons tag to your favorites. Email your entries to teachforeverATgmailDOTcom. Week 15 will be posted next Monday, April 27th.