Middle schoolers get a bad rap. Just today, a former student came back to sub for the day. I was excited to hear teaching was his 'backup plan' for law school, thinking if we could get this kid in a classroom, he'd be the kind to make a real difference in the lives of middle school kids. When he was in middle school, he wasn't a bad kid, just a kind of average kid - funny, smart, but not outstanding, just one of those you remember fondly but without a lot of horror stories to go along with the memory. He would understand their goofiness, their jokes and pranks, but take it all in stride. He'd be the kind to find the perfect balance between academics and fun.
Instead of being geeked about middle school, he insisted he wants to teach in upper elementary grades. I realize there is a need for male elementary teachers, but my heart will always defend the middle grades so I asked him, "Why not middle school?" with a hint of teariness in my voice.
He recounted how he'd subbed in 8th grade last week in a different school, and how horrible it was. His day here did not much better when I touched base later.
How can we convey how cool this grade level is to new teachers, hook them into wanting to be a part of the adolescent experience?? Middle schoolers are old enough to carry on 'adult' conversations. They love anything funny and unique. They crave the new, the different and the exciting. They are loving, trusting, and intelligent. Their willingness to be goofy for the sake of being goofy is unmatched by any other grade. They are simply the coolest people on the planet!
I tried to convince him that a well run middle school class does not have to be chaotic and out of control, but the look of terror in his eyes said he didn't believe a word I said. Too bad... he's just the kind of new blood middle level education needs to pump in some new excitement!