I have often been asked, “Why did you become a middle school teacher?” I would reply that as a middle school teacher I appreciated that age student for their honesty, humor, and desire to learn how to be more grown up. It is a painful time for children because they are learning how to become responsible and independent adults with proper manners, a good sense of humor, and a sense of individuality that will carry them through life, which seemed to be something I could relate to. I just knew I wanted to be a part of that teaching community.
Middle school aged children require educators that have a special kind of personality which is impervious to harsh comments about their hair, appearance and lifestyle in general. Teachers and parents must have a quirky sense of humor that carries them through the constant critique of “all knowing” middle schoolers who ban together in their search for an identity and independence. They must be able to guide students toward developing their own sense of style, toward becoming independent learners, toward understanding differences in beliefs and views; and toward becoming ready to successfully move on to high school, college, and adulthood. It is a daunting task for sure, but one I loved considering the nature of the little beasts!
I discovered that middle school children need tons of guidance and strict boundaries, but want to feel like they are making decisions themselves. This is a tricky tightrope to walk for teachers and parents. I learned there were times when I needed to take the heat so a student could save face, and other times when a student would surprise me and show a real sense of maturity by stepping up and owning the problem or difficulty.
During all the years I taught middle school I can honestly say that I looked forward to almost every day in the classroom. Life was not dull, I got honest feedback, students were always surprising me, I got to laugh often every day and I knew it was a place that was good for me.
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