Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers
Spring Break is over and testing season is here – the PARCC test, and the “too cool for school” test. The PARCC test will be over and done with in a week…the other test, well, that will take longer than we have time for this school year.
Every year,my sixth graders return from their Spring Break on the precipice of adolescence. A switch is flipped by some mysterious, known-only-to-sixth-graders force, and they return from break seventh graders in spirit and behavior. Suddenly (or so it seems), there is a need to present a cool facade, a demeanor of disinterest, a sort of “I’m kinda done with this little place-ness”. Everyone has a crush on someone else, and middle school drama begins to show up at inopportune times…in the middle of book club, for instance.
Sly smiles, and throwing serious shade become common place; a need to watch oneself becomes moment by moment work, for one never knows who is watching, or what they might say.
Of course, all of the above does daily battle with the pre-Spring Break self who fights mightily, and with success, at every turn. That sophisticated sixth grader can (ion the blink of an eye) morph back into the kid who laughs at fart jokes, needs to build a “reading fort” behind the easel, and wants to spend choice time writing about magic wands.
And, of course, there is the unrelenting need to test boundaries, rules, limits, patience…and sometimes even kindness. They are watchful when testing, paying close attention to how far they can push before there is push back, to whether the same rules apply in the same way they did when the year first began.
They are comfortable with each other and me, sometimes too comfortable. Throughout the day there is the constant push and pull of maintaining that exact level of comfort that allows for freedom of expression, creativity, and thinking, and yet prevents all of that good stuff from careening off into mayhem (which they both yearn for and and are terrified of).
Testing, testing, testing….