I teach 8th grade science and need some thoughts, ideas and practice advice on classroom management during these type of lessons; particularly with regards to safety. Noise and activity do not bother me and my classes can get loud at times when they are working in groups. What expectations can I reasonably establish that wil be proactive for my students who are unsafe during these activities? I have a few who run around, yell, horseplay and generally disrupt my labs. The other teacher is having the same issues. I have ways of responding to these situations-pull child out, give them an alternative assignment that provides written content covering the same topic we are covering with the lab or inquiry activity. I want to head this off at the beginning of the year and restructure my first few weeks activities to prevent or control as much of this disruption before it happens. I want the labs and inquiry activities to be looked forward to and for the students to enjoy that form of learning, however I also want them to be safe. I completed the Flinn safety training, and use their monthly Safety emails to keep myself and the other 8th grade teacher up to date. I teach a week on safety, show several safety videos, go through electrical, glassware, thermal and chemical safety. I stress I am preparing them for high school so that they can really enjoy and learn a great deal from the labs there and feel secure they can participate properly and safely. we don't have much lab equipment or glassware beyond what I have scrounged, begged for or found at Goodwill but we have the basics. No sinks, chemical storage, chemicals or bunsen burners. I use kitchen chemicals and candles or hotplates. I am writing grants to get science equipment and glassware, a goggle sterilizer, and a small chemical storage cabinet. I taught high school level science prior to moving to middle school and I know I had many kids struggling in my labs there and whose behavior was not acceptable.
I want to be able to be clear on what behavior and participation I expect, the consequences for violating a safety rule and what I can reasonably expect for student behavior. What do you all expect? What behavior is not acceptable and how do you teach them how to act and behave? How do you prepare them and what equipment do you expect 8th graders to be able to handle properly? inquiry is a major portion of our Grade Level Expectations and next year we are supposed to start using our state's version of NGSS so now is a good time to get my labs and inquiry activities better prepared for. I have them read through the Flinn safety contract with me and then they take it home and get parents signature, they sign it and return. My classroom management plan included my no tolerance approach to safety violations or creating an unsafe situation.
Any ideas or guidance would be greatly appreciated. I have an excellent partner teacher, we split the 8th grade students between us. Our rooms are pretty much the same except she has half desks and real lab tables and I have just desks. She is a fantastic teacher and on the same page as I am with these issues. I am not complaining about my school and I have a very supportive administration, I just want to know how other teachers at the grade level are handling these situations so I can improve my practice and get ideas.