I’m writing this very quickly because this just needs to be documented! 😂
We’ve had two class periods, then my students got to the exploratory classes (they are in art right now), so my classroom is empty. I usually turn on a little music and try to be productive.
Today, I had two 8th grade basketball players peek into my room, then whisper, “We can do our work in here!”.
They are coming from social studies (across the hall) and need a place to do their reading and questions.
So, here they are, reading away, mispronouncing words (“Are you sure it’s not ‘determed’ (the word was determined) ??”) and giggling. While they are working, they are just being goofballs as well.
This is what I love about teaching middle school. Students aren’t to that point that where they are “too cool” to act like kids. They are talking about Jefferson, but talking in this hybrid English/old person accent because of the words “custom duty”.
But more than that, our middle school is a place where an overwhelming majority of our students can go into a room and act like kids. Yes, we hold them to a certain level of behavior, but yet, sometimes, they need to be this way. They need to be silly. Our students have those teachers/adults in the building they connect with during the day. We have a list of students who’ve said they connect with very few people here, which is something we are working on. The list of students who say they’ve connected with many adults in our building dwarfs those who haven’t. Again, we’d love to say every single student has made that connection, but that’s going to be highly unlikely. We talk about being part of our “NFVMS Family”, looking to instill that sense of belonging. Some of our students come from homes where families don’t have that sense. We try to help them to see that families DO take care of each other, they DO watch out for each other, and that their NFVMS family is there for them when they’ve been successful and they’ll be there when they screw up.
What happens when those connections are made, when that sense of family is created, students trust those adults to do the right thing, to make those boundaries that students need (and crave), but to allow them the freedom to grow and explore as individuals. While I’ve never had these two girls in class (the joys of being able to be placed in multiple grade levels, I don’t get to teach everyone), they’ve learned from being on my basketball team that there are rules, but that I’m pretty laid back. Thus, the English accent.
As they left for lunch, the one girl said goodbye in her really weird accent, and I replied “Good Day” in my own British accent.
They about lost it.
Teaching middle school also means, every once and a while, you can ACT like the students as well.
And they love it.
March 9, 2020 at 12:20 pm
You’ve made middle school seem way better than I remembered it as a kid. I do remember some of my teachers allowing a sense of playfulness, which was always appreciated. However, I also remember a lot of round-robin reading in one of my classes and rows in nearly all of them. That I didn’t like.
BTW: Did you know comments are closed from the post you had yesterday?
March 9, 2020 at 12:54 pm
Well, I do have rows, only because we tried pods and they cannot stop talking! I can feel what few brown hairs I have on my head turning gray just thinking about my groups! I think in our middle school, we do a great deal of work trying to create those relationships where students work when they need to, but can also have fun with us as well. That’s what middle school “should” be at least! 🙂
March 9, 2020 at 2:08 pm
The relationships make such a difference at school. All kids need caring adults in life. It’s wonderful that your school has focused on it collectively. A bit of humour can also go a long way. You are right, that this needed to be recorded.
March 9, 2020 at 4:43 pm
Good work create a space where kiddos want to work and being a person they don’t mind sharing space with. That’s big at 12.
March 9, 2020 at 6:43 pm
These bonds you describe are vital and you also hit on another vital thing: the FUN of the relationships. It makes the entire experience – this is what kids remember when they have long forgotten the lessons (alas) and tests (can’t blame ’em for that!). I expect they know you find joy in them and that they love you for it (most of the time!).
March 9, 2020 at 7:38 pm
We just established “family groups” at our school and this post gives me a vision of what we are working towards. There is joy in your building.
March 9, 2020 at 8:38 pm
There IS joy in our building! 🙂 I just needed to reflect and allow the kids to help me realize this fact!
March 9, 2020 at 8:39 pm
It’s always there! I believe that.
March 9, 2020 at 7:54 pm
1. Your hashtags are on fire. Haha!! 2. One of the best parts of teaching is getting to be silly with the kids sometimes. Mine have been taking themselves a little too seriously lately.
March 9, 2020 at 8:59 pm
>Mine have been taking themselves a little too seriously lately.<
This sixth grade group cannot handle the "silly" stuff. They take a crack and run with it. My 8th grade players and deal with things better. BUT, you hit on something. Being silly is a tremendous perk our job! 🙂
March 9, 2020 at 8:21 pm
Oh anytime you can incorporate any kind of accent into the lesson they love it! Sometimes I’ll switch it up and either pick a Southern accent (think Tennessee) or Midwestern (think Sconi). If I watch a few clips of Doctor Who during my lunch I can attempt a British accent. Your classroom sounds very welcoming and you’ve definitely cultivated a sense of family there.
March 9, 2020 at 10:32 pm
Awesome documentation of this sweet moment with your students. They obviously feel safe with you! Thanks for sharing.
March 10, 2020 at 5:51 am
Love this, and yes, it just had to be written with its feel good vibes! And isn’t it just a blast to act like a kid every now and then!!! 🙂
March 10, 2020 at 9:19 am
This was a very sweet read, I’m glad things like this happen in your everyday life as well (I remember a tough post from a couple of weeks ago). Thanks for sharing it with us :))
March 11, 2020 at 5:16 pm
I remember having this feeling of family and the connections with so many of my middle schoolers last year. A good middle school staff can make so many wonderful and powerful connections with the kids, and one with a different “feel” to it can lose out on all those connections. Thanks for the reminder of how the middle school family looks when it is going well.