Posted: April 16, 2013 in Middle School, Teaching

And now for a brief announcement.

So…Friday afternoon I accepted a contract to finish out the school year teaching World History. My old job at my old school. What WAS I thinking?

Really, I’m sure there will be points during the next eight weeks when I will question my own sanity for doing such a thing, but I love teaching History and I love working with 8th graders.

Middle school is ten times harder to teach than high school. By sophomore year, kids know how to wear their masks and play the game and behaviors are more predictable. Eighth-graders? Yowza! They are hard guys, drama queens, goofy puppies, shell-shocked, carefree, scared of the world and so full of energy that they scare themselves. They don’t know how to deal with being 6″ taller than they were in the fall. They don’t understand why they are 6″ shorter than everyone else.

So why do I like them? Because they are unabashedly genuine. Their filters are rarely fully-engaged. Their outward shell of cool has not hardened yet. They are hysterically funny and they can just make your heart hurt.

In return, I can make really annoying jokes and draw the Battle of Marathon all over the board (try that at a grownup dinner party) and if I should get a little choked up when I read Henry V’s “Band of Brothers” speech to the class, they’re okay with that, too. 

Yeah…I guess that’s what I was thinking.

Tomorrow:  Back to photography

  1. Marjorie says:

    A perfectly beautiful testimony, pulling right at my heart strings.

  2. Jean says:

    Those are some lucky 8th graders!

  3. Kathie says:

    That is why you are a GREAT teacher. I have always loved the middle schoolers — and could never put it into words. You have done so with great authority. Thank you. Kathie

  4. Sherry says:

    I , too , love eighth graders.

  5. wish I had you for my eighth grade teacher…the transition into being an adult would’ve been much enhanced.

  6. forgot to also wish you the best.

  7. Betsy (Thompson)Legg says:

    Pat as I have always known you. I sure wish I was in your class but only as an observer. I am sure I would have a hard time with the assignments……….

  8. Okay…you all just made me get a little misty and it isn’t even time for Henry V. Thank you.

  9. John says:

    Good luck! As a history major myself, I know it’s important to have a teacher who makes history come alive… and who’ll inspire them.. You sound like just the person for the job.

  10. Kris says:

    VERY good decision for the students and…..for you! 🙂

  11. Sherry says:

    What stage of the moon are the eighth graders experiencing now? I am waxing crescent…

  12. richardhaas8 says:

    While I was going to collegel I drove a school bus to help pay the bills………this is what I learned.
    Grammar school kids are okay……..they just want to make a bunch of noise…….tell ’em to quiet down and they will. High school kids were okay too………they just wanted to act macho around the girls and the girls just wanted to gossip. But the middle school kids……….the most obnoxious, self centered, disrespectful, only wanting to test the limits of who ever they were around. So my respect goes out to you for your genuine enjoyment of the brats. I admit defeat.
    Thanks for sharing;

    • Richard–I couldn’t drive a schoolbus no matter how much money was offered. I can totally understand your feelings about middleschoolers and if you are trying to deal with them from that angle–you driving a giant machine in traffic and they are BEHIND you…an exercise in horror. I have them in completely different circumstances.
      But I rarely turn my back for very long… 🙂

  13. andykidd says:

    Just browsing as I gear up for a session of PhD work. I mustn’t have followed you at this stage. My wife teaches art to these guys. That’s because she is a temporary relieving teacher and all the permanents divvy up the senior classes and hand these to her. I think she gets immense satisfaction from the light that go on for the few.

    • I’m not sure what that means exactly–she’s sort of a long-term sub? I’ve observed…and I’ll bet she’s seen…some of the most unlikely kids just blossom in the art room giving voice to some part of themselves that hasn’t seen the light before. I expect she wouldn’t have chosen teaching if she wasn’t driven by that joy in sharing her own passion.
      (I am good for about 15 more paragraphs on this topic–in Wisconsin, the teaching profession is under attack by a conservative political faction that is working hard to dismantle the system as it stands, turn it over to private interests and hire non-licensed (read: cheaper) teachers, all for a profit. And, that, Andy Kidd, is probably my first and only foray into personal political statements in these pages. It just kills me to see a profession which is truly an art being turned into nothing more than an assembly line job.)

      • andykidd says:

        It means she sometimes gets a short term contract to fill i9n for people on leave, sick etc. Sometimes just a call in the morning to cover an absence. We wont discuss politics anymore, except for me to say in recent elections there has been a huge backlash against conservative politics 🙂

    • Gotcha. I’ve done the same as your wife at various points in my career. This year, I am working for the university supervising small groups of student teachers as they do their field work and that’s something that I really enjoy.
      Now you can go back to work on your PhD. stuff having had a political discussion on an international level. 🙂

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