Friday, March 23, 2018

Being Brave in Middle School

Middle School students who were in the Talent Show
I am constantly in awe of my students and today was no different. It was our last day before Spring Break, which also happens to be the day of our middle school talent show. That takes place during the last two hours of the school day. To accommodate for that, all class periods are shortened to seventeen minutes long. Yowza. My seventh grade colleagues and I have chosen last year and this year simply to keep our homeroom kids for the morning and celebrate this last day with them however we choose. 

I choose to celebrate with Percy Jackson and a blue food party. 

Now in elementary school we'd study Greek Mythology and have a similar celebration at the end of a read aloud of The Lightning Thief. In middle school my schedule is much tighter, but for the past two years we still did this movie/party on the day before Spring Break. It is the perfect way to wind down.

Our day began on a high note. Kids could wear hats to school if they brought a dollar. The donations were going to a local family who have two sons. Their youngest is in Pre-K and has been facing some health issues. When the announcements came out this week that we were doing a fundraiser for him, I showed my homeroom some photos of the four year old from his mom's Facebook page and simply asked my kids to bring in donations if they could. They did, including an extremely generous donation from one of my quietest students. My class and I gave her a round of applause, which embarrassed her, but also made her smile. I was in awe once again of the kindness of my students.

Then it was time to eat. Grabbing some blue food and drink, my kids headed over to settle in for the movie. While the sounds of Percy battling a Furry surrounded me, I pulled up the Age Poems my students wrote to grade. I read about hard times growing up, the fear of divorce, the struggles with friendship, how kids don't feel heard, how lock down drills frighten them, their confusion of the world around them, and their confusion of their own brains. Mostly I read how my seventy-five students feel that they're straddling the world of childhood and young adulthood and are so confused by it. I was beyond proud of them for finding their voice and pouring their souls bare on the page.

After the movie, and after drying some tears as I graded, we were on to the Talent Show. I was a shy kid, that is for certain. No way could I get up by myself and perform in front of my peers and a bunch of parents, but these kids did it. I was in awe of kids that tried this for the first time just as I was in awe of kids that had no fear and had performed last year. I also felt joy in watching the majority of the student body as they supported their classmates as they tried something that was hard. 

It was the perfect way to kick-off Spring Break.

Watching my principal, Ms. Handley, embracing the role of "cowbell" player for the 7th grade percussion ensemble didn't hurt either. 

More cowbell, Jeanne. More cowbell. What a fabulous day.