As the end of the school year fast approaches, it becomes a race towards the finish line, many topics left to teach, lots of activites I want to share, as well as other disturbances creating havoc in the classroom. We are gearing up for 7th grade camp, my first granddaughter is on the way, any day, and spring is in the air melting the last of the snowbanks and causing 7th grade minds to wander randomly.
It is also the time of year I truly feel the most reflective about my own personal growth as a teacher. Looking back over the year I wonder what have I learned?
Today's post will be that: What I Have Learned in Middle School
Patience: Middle school kids simply have NO patience, none for trivialities in lessons, none for boring mundane assignments, not even a twinkling for each other and their mistakes. However, built into their own vast empty vat for patience is an insatiable need for the adults around them to be brimming with the same trait. They want and need for us to be tolerant of their actions, even when our patience has run out. They need us to explain one more time, ask them to stop doing something one more time, they want and crave our approval, one more time.
Humor: Nothing is more important the ability to laugh at yourself. Nothing will take you further successfully in a group of adolescents than being able to genuinely make fun of your own mistakes. Not only do they see the humor in most any situation, your ability to laugh at your own mistakes shores up their own insecurities about themselves. When they realize you are not perfect either, it makes them more confident that their own shortcomings, the ones they feel are so obvious to everyone around them, are less important.
Honesty: Never, ever lie to a middle school student about anything. In the first place, they are wonderful at picking up signals from you. In the second place, if they ever suspect you are lying, or worse, catch you in a lie, they will likely never give you another chance.
Forgiveness: While they are holding you to the highest possible standards, middle schools need to know you will always love them, always forgive them their indiscretions, and most of all, always wipe the slate clean. Once they feel you are holding their past actions,against them, they give up, refusing to try to please you because they feel it is too late, the damage is done, irreparable, so why bother. Even when you do not feel like being forgiving, you must.
Spontaneity: Middle schoolers crave routine, and feed off knowing what to expect from you, but once in a while, let you guard down. Tell a story that pops into your head because of what you are studying; take the class outside to taste the first snowflakes of the season, or to enjoy the first 60 degree day of the spring; bring in cookies just because. Everything during the school day does not have to be curriculum related. Show your humaness as well.
Unconditional Love: If you give it, you will get it. Students need to know you love them for who they are, in spite of who they are. If they do, the love you get back will make anything else thrown you way irrelevant.
I've also learned many other things this year, some of which would change the PG rating of my blog to XXX rated, but those don't matter nearly as much as the ones above :)
Middle schoolers are the most magical people on the planet. If you don't believe me, walk into my classroom and watch the fairy dust generated by their smiles.