I began a second teaching career last week. One that I’m sure I said I’d never try (my mama always warned me, “Never say never”).
That of a middle school teacher.
I taught high school English for 23 years and quit that job seven and a half years ago . . . for 100 reasons, the biggest of which was that I was plain ol’ burned out.
In this seven and-a-half-year interlude, I tried a variety of jobs. I also went through a cancer journey.
And somehow I have ended up teaching again.
But not just teaching.
Teaching middle school!
I used to tell people who taught middle school that they must be saints.
But it turns out that they’re ordinary folks . . . folks like me.
So what did I experience in Week One?
Here’s a rundown of my rollercoaster of feelings at the end of each day:
In-service day: Boy, my body really hurts from standing and walking on these concrete floors and up and down these stairs!
Day 1: Wow, now I remember what I really enjoyed about teaching! What fun!
Day 2: And now I remember why I quit teaching.
Day 3: Things are starting to level out a bit. I realize that the kids have to get to know me, and I have to get to know them. My dud group isn’t really a dud at all. My challenging group? Well, that remains to be seen.
Day 4: Whew! I made it through the week! Thank God for weekends!
* * * * *
Middle schoolers run a big gamut in three years. They apparently change rapidly.
Because 8th graders have very little in common with 6th graders. At least in what I could tell from my first week.
The 6th graders are enthusiastic, full of energy.
The 8th graders are like high schoolers. More laid back . . . and in some ways, too cool for enthusiasm.
And 7th graders are somewhere in between. Perhaps both simultaneously.
Both the enthusiasm and the laid-backness have advantages and disadvantages. I just have to figure out how to maximize the positives and minimize the negatives.
So far, the enthusiasm appeals to me. A kind 6th grade teacher shared with me on Friday that I had received “the 6th grade stamp of approval.” Her students were wary at first because I’m a new teacher. But they have returned from my class saying they like it.
I’m teaching a careers class, and I hope to make it both engaging and meaningful. I have a lot of leeway because there aren’t that many teaching standards.
Just from the first couple of days (I have each class every other day), I can tell that the kids don’t know a lot about many careers. So I’m hoping to have quite a few speakers come talk with them and maybe have others Skype with us.
I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about careers, too. There are so, so many possibilities! I get excited thinking about the many ways to approach both learning and teaching this new subject for me.
Week Two begins tomorrow. We’ll start our “extra” class this week, and mine is the school newspaper. So I’ll be meeting a new bunch of kids then, too.
I have successfully completed Week One. I already have a pep rally under my belt. I’ve already had a kid storm out of class. I’ve calmed down a class that was super excited to do an activity.
I can confidently predict that Week Two will bring some new experiences, both positive and negative. A new ride, both up and down.
Because that’s how life works.
In middle school and beyond.
I’m ready for this week’s ride . . . . . .