Join the March SOLSC at Two Writing Teachers!
My 7th. grade alumni and some of their friends trek into their old classroom every other day for “lunch time review” – which is Room 202 code for lunch time down time. When they were in sixth grade, they’d eat lunch for half a period and then spend the other half in study hall in assorted classrooms around our middle school. Since their lunch time was also my lunch time, and I was in our room any way, we established our downtime tradition a long time ago: return to home base, read, get some extra help, hang out in the reading area an play board games. Sometimes, the room is quietly buzzing with industry and my kids are busy with completing projects and getting homework out of the way; sometimes, the room is just this side of raucous.
Since sixth grade meets every other day for writing workshop, and my room happens to be free on those days…my 7th. grade alumni (without skipping a beat) pick up where they left off last year.
And I feel very lucky to get to be part of their school day for just a bit longer. Even though they bring with them noise and all the squirmy chaos and nonsense that is middle school: friendship woes and friend group drama, that edge of being mature thoughtfulness which can give way at any moment to goofiness, the inability to sit still or be quiet for more than three minutes at a time, the mercurial vacillations between being ecstatically happy and at ease with themselves which can turn suddenly into dark moods, deep insecurities, abject fear. One moment they have it together and the next they are a collective hot mess. Middle school.
Fittingly, I’ve been listening and loving WNYC’s podcast this week: Being 12:The Year Everything Changes
For those of you who teach (or live with) middle school, this is a must hear series – thoughtful, wise, and true. Middle school is not for every one, I know this because most people blanche when I tell them I teach sixth grade, and they think I’ve lost my mind when I confess that I actually love it. But, this series has reminded me of all the reasons why I believe that it is a privilege to teach these guys and spend my week days amidst their chaos. After all, what could be more important work than helping kids navigate their way through a critical time in their lives, when, as 12 year old Noah Shippey says:
“It’s difficult because you’re learning all these responsibilities for the first time. And none of this has really happened before. Adults, they do that all the time and it’s easy because they’ve done it a lot. But we’re just starting.”
And how amazing is it to be part of that starting process? Very. Which is what I think as I look out at my 7th. graders – some of whom are arm wrestling, some deep into a game of cards, some who are spread eagled on the reading rug apparently napping, and the rest who are huddled in a small group trying to work our “some friend group issues”.
Middle school…bring it on!