Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Reasons I Like Teaching Junior High

1. In jr. high, kids experiment with their identities in mostly harmless and usually amusing ways.
2. Their identities are still fluid enough, though, to let them try things that in a few years they'll be inhibited about, like all my boys who feel that learning to knit is no threat to their masculinity.
3. They are still very much kids in that they will believe almost everything you tell them.
4. The body of really high quality literature for young adults is impressive. Without teaching junior high, I would never have read Hatchet, Holes, Esperanza Rising, Walk Two Moons, Bloomability, Tuck Everlasting, Because of Winn-Dixie, Out of the Dust, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, Nightjohn, The Giver, and so many others.
5. Compared with high school, where during any term I might need to teach courses as diverse as World Lit, Drama, Short Story, Remedial Reading, Composition, Poetry, Creative Writing, Classics, plus the regular offerings by grade level, junior high is relatively finite. I can feel a level of mastery with my curricula that allows me to be creative with them, and also permits me a life outside of school.
6. While anyone at any time in their lives can change course, it seems that junior highers are incredibly malleable. If I can help shape a positive direction strongly enough in junior high, maybe it will carry them through the pressures of the next few years of their lives.
7. Junior high students laugh at themselves and the world around them easily and well. They have a huge capacity for joy.
8. It is so easy to make them happy, to give them joy: complimenting ANYTHING, giving them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, letting them hang out at lunch for some undivided attention, they even still like stickers, although they'll put them on their faces.
9. I get to share just 150 students with my team of 6 teachers; we are a family. And the other teachers on my team approach the kids very much how I do, as people first and vessels for knowledge second.
10. Every so often, a spark of brilliance will leap from the otherwise rather typical sea of hormones, and you catch a sneak peak at the outrageously fabulous adults they will someday be.


Blogger Janola said...

This is a sweet tribute to our kids, and every middle school student. I was on a chat room with other teachers this morning, and they were in awe that I teach these "monsters." I guess I can see what they mean; too bad they don't see what we do!

I love our kids! It's going to be so hard giving them up to my student teacher.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Janola said...

I love this post. You are so right about our kids and that is the joy I get from working with them, too, as you already know. Too bad more people don't see them the way we (our school or at least team) do.

9:24 AM  

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