Tuesday, December 8, 2020

I Work in a Middle School. Yes, it's on Purpose!

When I tell people I work in a middle school, they respond with one of the following:

A. On purpose?  this is from most sane people who think I'm insane

B.  Bless your heart!  this is from well-meaning southerners who think I'm insane

C.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  this is from parents of middle schoolers who know I'm insane

D.  Oh cool! What do you teach?  this is from other middle school teachers who are insane themselves

They look at me like, well, they look at me like one would look at someone who purposely chooses to work with hormonal, angsty, drama-filled tweens who leave an intoxicating miasma of BO and Axe in their wake. (Sidenote: masks are wonderful for blocking out those teen smells and I may continue to wear one long after Covid is under control!) 

Middle school kids like to whine that they're bored. Like all the time. They are so addicted to technology that when they have to put their phone away and do something as mundane as algebra, they lose their minds. It's like taking the drug-of-choice away from a hardcore addict. They will spend the next 50 minutes jonesing for a glance at their phones. Then they ask to go to the bathroom just so they can text their friend across campus who is also asking to go to the bathroom in order to get a hit of Snapchat like some strung-out junkie.

Middle school kids are So. Filled. With. Drama! "So&so liked the picture that so&so put on the 'gram and she's just so obvious about it and he doesn't even like her because he likes so&so, but I don't know why she even likes him to begin with; did you see his shoes today?!"

And as grown-up as they want to be, they're still kids who like to have those meaningful conversations with you about every. single. aspect of Minecraft until your mind goes numb.

Middle schoolers lack the part of the brain that tells you to stop and think before acting. So when they do some dumb thing like throw a pencil across the room, and you ask them why they did it, they will inevitably answer with an, "I dunno" accompanied by a shrug. And they literally don't know why they did it.

But they also know stuff. They know what's cool and what's not. Did you know that Crocs are cool now? Not only that, but the little Jibbitz charms that you got for your toddler's Crocs 18 years ago are also cool now. Who knew? Middle school kids knew, that's who!

Today I noticed that it looked like it was "snowing" on my student's computer. "How did you do that??" I asked. "That's so cool! What did you install to make it look like it's snowing?"

She looked at me like I was simple-minded and instructed, "You just click the snowman on your Launchpad." 

"Wait what?! Do I have that on my computer?!" I ran over to my desk and sure enough, I did! The student told me there's something different every month that you can click. How have I never noticed this, I wondered. Oh yeah, because I'm not a middle schooler. They know stuff.

But as crazy as they can be (and we all know they're crazy,) they're also pretty cool. Today a student drew a picture for me. She wasn't even one of my kids; she was just in my room for testing. And last week I was subbing in a class for a teacher who is in the hospital. This teacher is gravely ill (not Covid) so we had her students sign get-well cards for her. There was one girl who pulled a Polaroid print out of her purse. (Sidenote - I think of a Polaroid as an antiquated way to take pictures, but I'm clearly mistaken because middle schoolers think of it as a totally cool, retro way to snap pics, and as we previously discussed - they know stuff.) Anyway, she pulls out this picture of her, one other student, and the currently hospitalized teacher. "Miss, can I get some tape? I want to put this picture in the card. But first, can I please take out my phone for a minute so I can take a picture of this for myself?" 

Now how cool is that? To this student, that picture of her with one of her favorite teachers meant a lot. Just the fact that she wanted to have her picture taken with a teacher is cool! And the fact she was willing to give that prized photo away to this teacher in an effort to cheer her up is just pretty darn awesome. Something about this student's enthusiasm for her teacher just struck me, especially since this particular student is one of the ones who can be a pain in my butt. It really made me stop and think about what a difference teachers can make. Even if the teachers don't always entirely realize the scope of their influence, it's far-reaching. These kids form some pretty amazing bonds with them, and teachers have the unique opportunity to impact these kids' lives in dramatic ways.

So I guess that's why I work in a middle school. These kids can be pains in the butt and they can try my patience on a daily basis. But if I didn't work there, I wouldn't know I could pull off wearing Crocs to work, my computer wouldn't be "snowing," I wouldn't have a wall full of drawings, and I wouldn't have a new appreciation for this "pain-in-the-butt student who, as it turns out, has a soft spot in her heart for her favorite teachers.


Debbie said...

This is so sweet! I would have never guessed that crocs were in style! They are still gardening shoes to me.

Rainbo said...

If there were more teachers who could really SEE the children the way you do, maybe, just maybe,
more of them would grow up to be sane, sensible, caring adults.

Cindy said...

LOVED this! Thank you for all you do and for sharing stories of your amazing students with us!

Ex_Libris said...

YOU are awesome
YOU are funny
and, YOU are uber-talented.

It is so terrific to see you back at your keyboard again.

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