Friday, August 19, 2016

Transitioning to Teaching Middle School

Three days done. All summer as I've talked to other teachers, friends, family members. They've looked at me a bit askance and asked how I thought I'd like teaching middle school. At the start of summer I would confidently say I knew I would love it. As time wore on, and more and more middle school teachers looked at me with trepidation as they asked, I began to worry. I had this, right? Well, it has only been three days, so time will still tell, but so far I don't like it, I love it. 

I felt pretty prepared for what middle schoolers act like - I have two currently living in my house. On any given week my home can be overrun with middle school boys. I know their humor, their clumsiness, their emotions. Happily, that is what I've found in our classroom as well.

The first few weeks of school are typically insane. Years ago my colleague Adrienne and I would remind each other that we needed to make it to Open House. Then the days at school would hit their grove and we could breathe. So the fact that I'm exhausted at the end of any given day does not shock me in the least. That will improve. But there have been so many bright spots this week.

I've gotten to see all of my former students. Whether they are in my class, or just popped by to say hello and wish me well, it was the best welcome to school ever.

We shared stories - the first chapter in Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? by Kate DiCamillo, School's First Day of School by Adam Rex, and bits of Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. Do 7th graders like to sit surrounding their teacher and listen to picture books? Seemed like a yes. 

I have amazing colleagues. I've been blessed in this regard for all of my teaching career, but the move to middle school has not disappointed. I'm so grateful for the support and kindness by everyone in my building. 
Homeroom. Need photos of other two groups still.
The room has been filled with reading. I wasn't sure if seventh graders would slip into reading zones on day two just because I asked them too. Fifth graders often will, but middle schoolers? Yep. Several took home their second book to begin this weekend.

They are creative. I bought a bunch of magnet poetry to stick on a whiteboard. After my son, Luke, removed "breast" and "butt", he declared it good to go. I looked at it, wondering if they would think it was a little kid activity. I decided just to leave it up and see if anyone noticed. Oh boy, did they ever. There are two study halls in my room - when other kids go to band or chorus. Each day a group gravitates towards the board - making silly poems about "chocolate sausages" (head in palm) or something else. Today a group of kids called me to read their poem. We decided to share it on Twitter because they wanted the world to see it. Freaking. Awesome. Kids. 

I've been in the building at least 50 hours this week. I've worked 2-3 hours each night at home. And yet, the smile is stretched across my face and my heart is happy. Middle schoolers rock my world. Who would have thought it?