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The truth about middle school

Have you ever considered teaching middle school? Perhaps this is you. And perhaps you should reflect on a few observations of mine.

During my first month of student teaching, I have found several things to be true. These observations are conceivably specific to the group of students I am working with, but they also may be general observations. Either way, they are the reality of teaching, in one respect or another.

The one major observation I have made in this month of teaching seventh grade is that middle school students are required to mature incredibly quickly during the short time they are in middle school. When they come into middle school, they are still like elementary students, needing someone to hold their hand, and when they leave they are required to think like high school students, ready to move out into the world on their own.

Restrooms are an issue, believe it or not. It does not occur to students to use the restroom when they pass it, only when they ask the teacher. It does not take a genius to realize that this gets exhausting after a while, so it is very important that the tone is set early on that there are times between classes to do things like visit lockers and restrooms.

This type of hand-holding does not stop at restrooms. Students in seventh grade need it across the board. Directions are a huge weakness of these young adolescents.

If directions are not absolutely clear, the teacher will be flooded with a multitude of questions. Even when directions are clear and have been clarified several times, students may still not understand them.

This leads me to a further difficulty seventh graders have: listening. Consistently, on a recent standardized test that the students took, they performed lower on the listening section than any other section. I did not find this surprising, because of the above observation that students need directions spelled out for them several times.

It should be noted that there is quite a noticeable difference between seventh graders and eighth graders. Seventh graders have yet to adjust to the atmosphere of the middle school, whereas eighth graders are comfortable and even get a sort of “senioritis.”

It is not all bad with seventh graders, though. They can be sweet and sensitive, at times, even giving hugs. They are always full of energy, which keeps us all young. No day can be completely bad when you stand in front of a bunch of young, often innocent faces ready to soak up all that you say.

So when you are applying for jobs and purposely search for a middle school position or perhaps just stumble across one in your search for a foot in the door, now you know a bit of what you are in for.