Friday, November 21, 2014

Middle School Versus High School

Three months into teaching high school after eight years of teaching middle school, and I can't say I've looked back much except to say: teaching high school is amazing!  Middle school made me who I am, and I am grateful for all the experience I had teaching sweet sixth graders, trying-to-figure-it-all-out seventh graders, and already-grown eighth graders.  I have moments when I share with colleagues that "I come from middle school," as I count down for quiet, teach the students how to give thumbs up/thumbs to the side/thumbs down as a formative assessment, or instruct the class on clapping it up to celebrate an otherwise overlooked success.

And there are times when I say "I had a middle school moment," as I flashback to the sunflower seeds  (see post here) that I found on the plush carpet of the Lincoln Center theater where my sixth graders had just finished viewing a Shakespeare play, or when I think of the time when my scrawny, 11 year-old runner ran off into the crowd outside of the Museum of Natural History.  In those moments, I have to remind myself that the trauma of middle school is over and the beautiful parts-- the handmade decorations with stickers, markers and glitter; the apology letter in the form of an essay with a quoted piece of text evidence from the Bible that I got after a minor incident; and the Holiday gift exchanges and luncheons complete with table clothes and chip appetizers that we used to have in my self-contained days--  will forever be part of me.

Already there have been, and I am sure there will continue to be, many times when my middle-school-teacher skill set will serve me well.  I guess it's time for me to revise my four-word teaching story from "self-contained, six years" to something that does my experience justice more so than "I survived middle school."  Until then, I'm happy to be with students who are past that stage of intense hormones and figuring out all the newness that translates into unpredictable, stressful-for-adults behavior.   And I'm realizing daily that high schoolers are just as playful and wanting to learn as middle schoolers.  They also still tell it like it is, though they may be a little less mean harsh.  Nonetheless, I am grateful to continue having the opportunity to learn as I teach and to witness academic and emotional growth of many.

Miss M

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