Great teachers empathize with children, respect them, and believes that each one has something special that can be built upon. ~ Ann Lieberman
Tomorrow I begin another school year. It never ceases to amaze me how much I love meeting my new students. No matter who sits in front of me, I enjoy getting to know them. When I tell people that I teach 7th grade English, they often make anguished faces or ominous sounds. They think that middle school kids are like some unfamiliar beasts or space aliens. What do they know?
Middle school kids are just like little kids only in bigger bodies. They want to be loved and accepted. They want to please and be successful. They just have a couple of obstacles in the way – hormones and peer pressure.
I didn’t really enjoy grades 6-7-8. Believe it or not – I was a NERD! I spent most of my time reading Nancy Drew mysteries. My parents were pretty strict, so I wasn’t allowed to do some of the things the other girls were doing. I played intramural basketball, but I am not athlete. I wore glasses sans makeup so my eyes looked kind of beady, and the long straight hair of the 70’s did nothing for my then long slender face. I was never one of the “cool kids” or one of the students that teachers paid any extra attention. I was a goody-goody and hardly ever got into any trouble which made me almost invisible in class. I was smart and got good grades, but that wasn’t something you talked about with other kids. In 7th and 8th grade I had to go to speech class (very new at that time) to correct a lisp. I hated going out to speech – well until 8th grade when the captain of the basketball team had to go too. I had a terrible crush on him!
When my students come through the door tomorrow and every day this year, I want them to know that I care about who they are not just what grades they earn. I don’t want them to feel the way I did in middle school. I survived, but thriving, not surviving should be the goal of education!