It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a new teacher fresh out of college is in want of a classroom full of annoying twelve year-olds.
Yes, that is the opening line of Pride and Prejudice, modified, of course, to fit my needs. The truth of the matter is, I am becoming increasingly annoyed at a few of my students, and I am not quite sure how to handle it. There are a few times where I have really struggled to keep my cool, biting my tongue and clenching my mouth shut at the “SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP” that is bubbling beneath the surface. In all honest, I have discovered that many seventh graders lack simple “sense and sensibility.”
For example, I have one student who refuses to close his mouth. You can literally tell him not to talk for the rest of the period or he is out in the hall, and he will make a comeback to that! He has become increasingly more frustrating, both for me and for the other students, who are constantly telling him to “be quiet” (after I remind them that the words “shut up” are not be used in my room). He often will distract others by making funny noises or tapping his pencil. The other day, I asked him to get something from his desk. He was at the front of the room, and his desk is near the back (after I discovered that him being at the front was a distraction). Instead of walking over to his desk, like a normal human being, he proceeded to CRAWL across the room, on his hands and knees. Yes, he CRAWLED. I never realized that as a middle school teacher I would have to remind my students to walk on two feet like the young adults they are.
Middle school is truly a case study in many, many aspects. If you ever want to research human behaviors, a middle school classroom is surely the best place to do so. I knew that middle schoolers would be different in that they are so wrapped up in their own little lives, but I never realized to what extent. I try to validate their lives as much as possible – when a girl tells me on Monday she is in love with the boy she started dating at Friday’s football game, for example – but I also need them to realize that school is not ONLY for socializing, and that we are not there ONLY on their terms or on their agendas, and that you can still concentrate in school EVEN IF the boy in front of you is chewing gum. I guess part of me didn’t realize how much of a “life curriculum” I would be teaching: how to behave like young adults, how to ignore those who are bothering you, how to know when to let things go, how to deal with conflicts. Many days I feel like a life coach.
It’s fun, though, I must admit, and when I see a side of a student that I’ve never seen before, it’s amazing. We laugh a lot, we learn a lot, and we make mistakes a lot, and at the end of every day, it’s (usually) rewarding. But, boy, oh, boy, some days I really wish I didn’t have to remind a student not to crawl across the floor.