I had a great year! I really focused on caring about the students learning... I didn't "**** heads" with students about silly behavior, cell phones, or other typical 8th grade behavior. I respected the students and listened to them when they had questions... and usually asked them more questions, which drives them crazy but makes them think.
I used individual think time (about 2 - 3 min.) at the beginning of each lesson so students could start their own approach on how to solve the problem. Students loved this because the room was silent for a few minutes and everyone can start on their own. I also didn't accept "I don't know" as an answer - ever! Students learned quickly that they had to at least try to answer, or ask me a question. I really just focused on learning and it was my best year yet (my 7th year).