December brings all kinds of interesting behaviors to middle school students. The short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a stressful one, where our students' hormones, actions, and feelings are more rollercoaster-y than ever. Just last week at my school, we had 2 students who were on the run, all over our school, escaping every adult they saw. The week before that, 2 students were hysterical, crying in between all their classes, hovering outside of the cafeteria in tears, not for one second in the place they were supposed to be, over drama they had created themselves. Today a glass bottle came flying off of a table in the cafeteria, luckily missing everyone around it. Knucklehead behaviors are on the rise - bottle flipping, snowball throwing, hitting other kids on the backs of the neck.
On a more serious note, it is a truly difficult time for so many of our students. Food insecurity and homelessness are genuine issues in our small idyllic town. There are kids suffering through crises such as being removed from their homes by DCF, threats of self-harm are on the rise, and anxiety seems to be at an all-time high. The holidays bring about depression for many, and the short, dark days deprive us of much-needed sunlight.
However, there are happy moments, too.
One happy moment for me came last week in a letter from our superintendent in which he informed parents that no student will be assigned homework over the winter break. He basically cancelled homework! My kids are thrilled.
Going to teach my class is always a happy moment, too. I leave behind whatever is happening in the administrative part of my job, and lose myself in teaching and learning about the diversity of the African continent. The kids have neverending questions; while they lead us on tangents, we never stray too far from the topic at hand in our quest to find out more. As usual, they motivate me to do better, to find out more, and to be more creative and intentional in my teaching.
And, at the end of the day, I have the immense luck to come home to my warm home, my kids, my husband, my dogs and cat, a full fridge, and my parents who live around the corner. I make sure to hug my kids tight often, and try to be thankful for this good life.
Here is hoping you all make it to the holiday vacation with some energy left to enjoy time with your families and loved ones.