When I tell people that I teach middle school, the response I most often get is, "God Bless you!". The middle school student is indeed an interesting age to teach. It's an in-between age, full of insecurity, exuberance, giggles, tears, impulsive behavior, and insightful moments. While this is what makes it especially hard, it also makes it wonderful. I learn a lot from my students and am often inspired by them. However, more often than not there are lots of cringe-worthy moments.
There has been plenty written about what people would tell their teenage selves. I have been thinking a lot about what I would tell my middle school students, present and past. Here's my top 10:
1. It gets better, not worse after middle school. The test you took today and failed, or the boy who won't look at you, the horrible school picture or that embarrassing moment in PE class - all of that will fade into the background and stay there. When you come back to visit us when you are a junior or senior in high school, your transformation is usually amazing. You actually do become young adults. There is hope!
2.This one is for the girls, especially: You are beautiful. Even the girls going through "awkward" phases. You glow, you have energy and spirit. Be confident, love yourselves!
3. Axe, sprayed in huge quantities on your person, does not smell good. I don't even like it in small quantities.
4. Please take a shower. Daily.
5. Have empathy. Your teachers have lives, too. Be nice to your classmates. Think about people other than yourselves.
6. Another one for the girls: SPEAK UP in class!! I wish I had done that more when I was in school. It took attending a women's college for me to begin doing this.
7. Farting, burping, or yawning with a loud noise is NOT cute. It was maybe cute or funny when you were little. Not anymore.
8. It's polite to say hello to us: in the hallway, or at Target. Even if you run into us in the tampon aisle. We will say hello back.
9. Students sometimes say to us, "Mr.so and so hates me!" I tell them that teachers don't hate their students. Any teacher who HATES a student probably shouldn't be teaching anymore. Are teachers annoyed by students sometimes? Yes. Are teachers frustrated by them? Yes. Do we HATE them? No.
10. We believe in you! We want you to do well. We want you to be successful. We have high hopes for you! We try our hardest to reach every one of you. We love to see you grown up and being amazing when you come back to visit us. So, do come back! It puts a smile on our faces and gives us hope for our jobs and faith in youth.