While I've joked that I can't escape middle school-- seriously, like when grown folk are having tantrums on the street or adolescents are
turnt up rowdy on the subway-- teaching middle school will forever be the foundation from which I compare and understand my experiences.
There are the 9th graders who remind me of my 6th graders with their sweetness, intelligent naiveness and overall bright-eyed newness; there are the eager-to-learn-and-question, playfully, 10th graders who are a larger version of the rambunctious 7th graders I have most definitely taught in my past; and then there are the awesome, slightly grown 11th graders who I have the pleasure of teaching and are reminiscent of a mature eighth grade group I had one year.
Also, there's also the fact that I recognize older versions of students I've had along the way who made it through the often-struggle that is middle school into a good high school. And in some ways, I made it through too. I taught in places that seriously struggled to function in simple ways. Yet, there were always great educators-- some teachers, some administrators, some paraprofessionals-- who through their great work and support of me, helped me become who I am today: An educator who was able to seamlessly transition from a school where behavior precedes teaching, to one where the kids are ready to learn (all kids want to learn) and teachers are given the autonomy to teach any way they please.
I am truly grateful to have the ability to recognize that even in those who were strong in some aspects and weak in others, have something to teach me. That openness has allowed me to learn from many, many people and even more situations.
On that note, middle school will always hold a special place in my heart, and as I've always said, I'll say again: middle school is everything they say it is and more. Here's to new experiences and realizations as I continue on in my ninth year as an educator.