As a middle school teacher, I am immersed all day long in the worlds of 12-14 year old people, like it or not. On one hand, it keeps me young. You have to have energy to keep up, you have to show your goofy side in order to connect, and it helps your "coolness" factor if you know a little about current American pop culture.
On the other hand, there is definitely a divide (thank God) between the students and me, and there are times when I feel my former student's words in my bones: "You're MAD old Ms.Lopez" (I might have been around 42 at the time). This is never more apparent than when I hear or see certain things at school that I just don't get, like:
- Selfies in the bathroom - what is that about? And why is every pose they take almost identical: mirror in front, hand help up diagonally, head tilted to the side, hip to the other side?
- How is being a "Youtuber" an actual thing? Can you put that on your resume? Maybe if we put our lessons on Youtube, our students would be more engaged.
- Why do middle school students come into class and say, "Can we just take a nap today during class?" or "Are we doing something fun today?" Um, no, we are doing a lot of really boring crap. Sorry.
- Why is it fun to turn the middle school hallway lights out during passing times?
- Why "friend" or "follow" someone on social media if you don't say hello to that person in the hallway and they never acknowledge your presence either?
- Why are bodily functions ALWAYS funny in middle school? And why do the teachers find it just as funny? Last week Ms.W., the science teacher in whose class I do ELL support, has her tables labeled, each one as part of the digestive system. Our team had gotten together for a meeting, and we happened to sit at the "anus" table part of the digestive system. We could barely hold it together for the 50 minutes that followed. And when the students noticed it in class, we laughed right along with them. After all, you have to have a sense of humor to do our job.
Teachers, what puzzles you about your students?