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Middle School Behavior



I am curious to hear from other MS teachers about this age level regarding their perception of things. I have a student who thinks I am "mean". I never raise my voice, I am usually matter of fact. I have fun activities. I do make them follow the rules and expect them to follow proper behavior in the lunchroom, etc. You can count on one hand the amount of times anyone has had to sit out from recess in my class. I guess I am mean because I uphold the uniform policy (shirts tucked in...). He told another teacher that he "Got into trouble over something". I hadn't even known the incident/exchange HAPPENED! When I asked him about it he said, "oh, I thought you looked at me like- What are you doing?" I hadn't ...since I have no idea it even occured! Also, if I had looked at him that way- he certainly should not have perceived this as "Being in Trouble". Thanks for any input! :)


6th grade

Some kids perceive regular instruction as "going off the deep end." If you know what you did was appropriate, don't be swayed by a 6th grader!! They change their minds on who is nice and who is mean as often as the weather.

Don't take it personally.


Senior Member
Mean teacher

A child in my class this year has told his parents that I mean and I take it as a compliment in a way. I know he thinks I am mean bc I make him follow the class rules with no exceptions. His parents are rather waffly so at home he can talk his way out of trouble. They like to pretend they are not but the way he manipulates them is something I have witnessed with my own two eyes so I know that they will back down when he has a temper tantrum. I just don't have the time nor the inclination to debate every issue with him. The rules are clear, he must follow them so I can teach everybody.

I did feel a bit like I should be defending myself when the issue first came up but after I posted on this site, and a lot of treachers supported my methods of discipline, I felt supported (and vindicated in a way) so I am trying very hard not to let it bother me.

So I suggest you feel good about holding this child accountable. He will behave for you bc you are consistent and that is what is important. You have a responsibility to all the students in your class not to get sidetracked discipling one...I think you are doing what needs to be done! Congratulations on being mean!! :p

c green

Being mean

Kids see this in very different ways, and a lot of middle schoolers do seem to find it really 'mean' to make them do what they should do.

I ended a spelling test on Friday, halfway through. The class simply would not stop screaming out stuff, talking, playing, and after three warnings, I simply said, "That's enough," and collected the work.

I lectured them on not following class rules, and one boy said, reprovingly, 'But you don't help us. You have to help us.'

"What do you mean?" I asked him.

"You don't help us. You took our test away, just because we were talking. Now we can't get good grades, because you don't help us."

I was blown away. The kid does not see my telling them what the rules are, or enforcing them, as 'helping'. Helping is giving a good grade. I see this a lot, now that I think about it. The kids will talk, disrupt, burp, whatever, through a carefully planned lesson, then tell me I am 'mean', and a bad teacher, when I refuse to sit down with each kid in the room in turn (but me, me, me first, always!) and review the lesson they wouldn't listen to as a group.

Another problem I have is that I seem to be 'mean' and 'too nice' at the same time. When I discuss classroom management and consequences with my classes, they bounce back and forth between 'you're too nice, you should send us to the office right away if we talk' and 'you're so mean, my other teachers don't send you out of the room just for talking'. They're twelve years old. They don't need to be consistent. I do, unfortunately, and it's hard work!

It sounds like your bunch is more contained...and perhaps this boy is a little afraid of you, or very sensitive to being 'in trouble'. Honestly, I don't think it will do him any harm, and it may keep him on the straight and narrow.


Senior Member
We had a similar discussion on another teacher board. This is a definition of a mean teacher I love!

A "MEAN" Teacher
(MEAN= Making Excellence A Necessity)
by Laura M. Staunton and Barb Erickson

A MEAN teacher insists that each student do the best he/she is capable of doing.
A MEAN teacher insists that students hand in their assignments on time and takes off points for late assignments.
A MEAN teacher does not accept incomplete assignments.
A MEAN teacher requires each student to think carefully and to make his/her own decisions
A MEAN teacher holds each student responsible for his/her own behavior
A MEAN teacher makes students keep the classroom, themselves, and their belongings neat and clean.
A MEAN teacher does not allow free time in class until all class work is done.
A MEAN teacher gives homework regularly, sometimes even on weekends.
A MEAN teacher requires all students to treat each other with respect.
A MEAN teacher makes life miserable for students by insisting that they always tell the truth.
A MEAN teacher produces students who are respectful, responsible, and successful.
The world needs more MEAN Teachers!

Miss C

Senior Member
so sad!

The majority of my kids think I'm pretty nice. Even cool. I got a new kid in the other day who's pretty notorious for bad behavior, and even he's made the comment to another kid about me, "No, man, she's really fair." The other day, some of them had time out, and one kept asking me what time it was. I said, "A, it's _____ o'clock. If you ask again, you're going to have 10 more minutes." He said, "Well, what if you forget?" Another one in time out said, "She never forgets. She always lets you go when it's time." All that to say that I'm really not mean. But "D" thinks I am. The other day, he said, "You know what, Miss C? I like you. Even though you're mean to me sometimes." I said, "You know what, D? I like you too. Even though you make me be mean sometimes." :p I know a teacher who tells her kids, "I'm only as mean as you make me be. Anyway, don't worry about it to much. They really know that you want their best and won't settle for less.


Senior Member
Kids think I'm mean too. They will feel differently when they get up to 7th grade and look back at how great they had it in my room. Just about all my alumni have good feelings about their time in my class. I like law and order in the room, but there is a time to talk and share with peers. The subject of interaction must be the lesson though. I wouldn't take it personally though if kids think you are mean. Like the others have mentioned, the kids' opinions and attitudes change with the weather.


New Member
I taught 7th and 8th grade last year after having taught only 4th. I thought I would go crazy. What I figured out is...it's the age mostly. Being a mom of a 21 year old and 14 year, I see the same kind of behaviors at home. Stick to your guns...the kids eventually will respect your decisions. Now that I am back in 5th, I see my older students (we are a K-8 school) around campus and they all still love me! Good luck.

Spanish T.


I love this and I am going to make an overhead of this for next year! What a wonderful poem!

Maestra Phx

mean or strict?

You're not mean, you've got high expectations and you know the kids will rise to them if you're consistent. It's my third year and it's amazing what a difference being consistent with high expectations makes! My class and I were having a community circle and I asked them if they thought I cared about them. Almost all did, and raised their hands. the ones who didn't agree, I asked them to explain, and then one of the other kids cut them off and said, "Well, do you do what our teacher expects?" Of course not! Consistency is key! And any time they say I'm mean, I say, "do you mean strict or mean?" They always mean strict : )

Miss C

Senior Member

I thought my kids thought I was okay. They usually do I think. Then we had this bizarre conversation the other day. I had given them the indefinite pronouns to memorize on Thursday, and then quizzed them over the list Friday. There are (I believe) 13 singular, 4 plural, and 4 that can be singular or plural. Basically, they had to memorize 21 words. THEN, on Friday morning right before morning break, I said, "Okay, guys, it's time for snack. You may want to study that pronoun list because the quiz will be right after snacktime." Again during snack, noticing that NO ONE was studying, I said, "Don't forget you have a quiz in 10 minutes." Still no one studied. Well, guess what? One kid got a 100%, and the rest FAILED! Miserably failed. I kind of fussed at them, and they're like, "Well, you didn't give us enough time. I mean, last year, Mr. _________ gave us like a week to memorize stuff like this. Even my parents say you don't give us enough time....." Yadda yadda yadda. THEN they got on this thing where they were trying to tell me that in public school, 6th grade is like a review year, and you don't have to learn new stuff. *sigh* I said, "Well, you're not in public school, and, besides that, I have a copy of SC education standards for 6th grade, and it certainly doesn't look like a review year to me." Anyway, I think I gave them plenty of time to prepare for the quiz. Am I wrong? BTW, one of my brainiacs who always gets A's on like everything finally said, "Well, part of the reason I did so bad on it was that I forgot about it, so I didn't study." *GRRRRRRR* It was on the assignment board. Anyway, feedback?


Senior Member
I'm mean too!

I took over an eighth grade science class from a teacher who let the kids play. Now I am the "meany" because I make them work and learn the material. But I really don't care what they think of me. I know I am doing what I was hired to do!