Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I wish that just for one day, I could zap myself back to my 7th grade school year. When I look at the faces of my students, and try to imagine what it must be like to be them, I wonder about the me of then. Granted, 7th grade is an entirely different experience now than it was in 1973 when I was in their chairs, but whether an adolescent then or now, I wonder what it would be like to be trapped again in that time in my life.

What kind of a 7th grader would I be in today's world? Would I be popular? Would I be smart? Would I be a social outcast? Would I be one of those peripheral kids, the wanna be's? Could I survive the pressures placed upon students today?

I think back to me, my friends, our classmates, and I don't remember there being the marked discrepancies there are today. Or perhaps, they existed, but we didn't notice?

Thrown into 7th grade, I think I would be a peripheral kid, one who struggled to be with the in-crowd. My parents would not buy me the cool clothes, the cell phone, the iPod, that all the cool kids have. That fact alone would have aligned me outside the cool kid crowd. As sad as that is, it is a middle school reality. The have's and the have-not's become marked at this age. It isn't about the house you live in, or the car your parents drive, the jobs they have, it is all about you and what you as a teenager have. My parents were also strict. I am sure I would not have been afforded the freedom to go to the movies or a ballgame, unsupervised with a group of friends.

I was always a smart kid, one who easily got good grades, eager to please my teachers. To some extent, those are still traits that help the transition into the cool kid club.

How would I feel, being on the edge? Would I find that unacceptable, and like so many kids who WANT to be in the in-crowd but can't quite make it, would I rebel, and chase that other group of kids? Would I become a 'bad kid'?

What does this knowledge, this look inside a 7th grader's mind tell me as a teacher?

I know for sure it tells me for many kids, many days, there is much more on their mind than the European history lesson I am trying to teach, more than the rate of change formula I am trying to get them to internalize....

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