Having last hour prep means an opportunity to earn some comp hours subbing for coaches who leave early for games/meets. I haven't had last hour off in years, so with this year's schedule, I thought, sure, why not.
So here I sit in last hour advanced Spanish. Most students are working on their assignment, while visiting with friends, flirting with the opposite sex, and/or listening to iPods.
As I watch them I have to laugh at the difference in your average middle schooler, and these junior/seniors. Granted, advanced Spanish does not attract many lower level students, esepcially those who struggle with their own language. The bodies in this room are among the best and brightest of the school.
I am struck by their non-dependence on me to help them, guide them, or even keep them on task. Despite the side-tracks in their behaviors, they are all going to complete the assignment before they leave here today.
With middle schoolers, assignment completion is tentative at best. Even work completed in a large group often doesn't get completed. The maturity level escalates dramatically between middle school and here.
I remember this crew as 7th graders. Some of them remain in their same role with their peers, the class clown, the quiet studious student with no friends, the flirty jock, the over-the-top loud girl. But others have changed. The once quiet now sits commanding his groups of friends, leading the discussion. The once short, timid 7th grader who used to hide under my desk and jump out to scare me has grown into a young man, tall and changed, mature, but still quite a character. I guess in my mind, they'd all stayed the same, just moved on to high school, and maybe a bit taller. Now I see them, growing into their grown up selves.
And I see the them's they used to be... and miss them.