Saturday, March 1, 2014

Middle School: Heaven or Hell?

Teaching middle schoolers. 6th to 8th grade. 11-14 year olds. For me the question was really
Hell, or a deeper level of Hell?

When I got into teaching I always saw myself as a 3rd to 5th grade teacher, I was not interested at all in middle or high school. Two of my sons have hit those grade levels while I've gone through credentialing and subbing, but they weren't what made me shudder at the thought of 30+ 7th graders 6 times a day, it was their classmates. Kids will be kids, teenage boys will be teenage boys, but I wanted no part of trying to teach them. Add in teenage girls? No. Thank. You.

Which makes me laugh every time I sub in one of our middle school classes and come to the end of the day thinking  It would be so cool to teach this subject/grade/kids! It probably has a lot to do with knowing these students, some were in my first real class ever and all the 6th graders I had last year for P.E., and being able to treat them as young people, not just bodies in the way of a smooth day. Part of it has to do with a feeling, almost a mantra, I've had since seeing poor teachers in my children's lives: I can do better. Maybe it comes from a background in the cutthroat worlds of both sports and retail, but I usually feel I can teach these students more and teach them better. Athletics and retail management require constant adjustment and improvement, the seeking of better methods, better practice, better results, and the harsh reality that those results must be more efficient and effective than others' or you lose ("others" in education being Hollywood, hormones, Snapchat, e-cigs, etc.). At my school it's less I can do better and mostly I want to be a part of this as I see first hand in their classrooms, in their conversations, and in their students how these teachers are constantly trying to find what works and what will work better.

So middle school wouldn't be too bad after all.

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