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How does a student thrive in a class environment?

I shut my eyes to travel back in time to when I was in school.  I walked into my class in 6th grade for the first time.  It was a core class, meaning three classes entailing Reading, Language arts and Social Studies.  I was nervous because I didn't know anyone in the class save for a few people I vaguely remember from elementary school.  The teacher was the old-fashioned type who had taught the same curriculum for the past 10 years and in the same style for the past 20 and wasn't about to change at that point.  I can sympathize with her, now that I see the classroom from her perspective.  I was not a difficult student to manage.  I didn't talk out of turn nor was I confrontational towards authority figures and manage to pull low B's and the occasional B+.  There were others that I saw as the annoying students that saw the class simply as a place to garner negative attention from the teacher and laughs from their peers. That created a stressful environment for others students, especially for students like me who needed that quiet atmosphere in order to work well.  It was a 6th grade period classroom after all so there was not that much room to move around but now that I am reading about how to effectively teaching in a more collaborative manner I see how a more traditional approach to class management would be better if blended with a guided and mediated approach.  Ask the students for their input and have them take stock of their own behavior.  There may be a laughter, snickers and some sarcastic remarks but much of that is just students posturing and trying to look tough.  I thought this started only in middle school but these days some student lose their innocence sooner rather than later and it is up to the teacher to recognize this.  In using this approach student who are more apt to struggle may feel more comfortable in the long run.