Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Don't tell me middle schoolers aren't fun to be around

When people first meet me and hear that I teach middle school, they often scrunch up their noses like they just smelled something sulfuric and proclaim, "Junior high? You couldn't pay me enough money to teach that age."

I think middle school kids get a bad rap. There's no doubt that many students can be extremely trying of your patience, but I think that is true of any age. Yes, their minds and bodies are changing faster than you can send a text message, but they're also learning to think abstractly and make sense of the adult world that they haven't been invited into, yet they feel they know more than you do about it. It can be extremely entertaining if you look at it from that perspective.

Attitude and selfishness abounds at this age, but they still have moments of fun and silliness as well. Yesterday a pair of 7th grade girls (who were my students last year) came up to me in the hallway and said, "Mrs. S, can we borrow one of your pillows? We need it for a presentation we're doing next period." When I told them they could, a few seconds later they emerged from my room carrying FOUR pillows. I stopped them and said, "Hey wait a minute! You asked if you could borrow A pillow. Not FOUR pillows." They looked at me and said, "Oh. We meant one for each member of our group. Can we please borrow all four of them?"

I had no intention of telling them no. I just wanted to give them a hard time.

A couple periods later, after my prep, I walked into my room and saw this display sitting on my desk chair:

I'll admit it. At first I was mad. I thought to myself, "Those girls had me last year. They know exactly where those pillows go. Why did they put them on my chair?" But the closer I got to my chair, the more ashamed I felt that my initial reaction was one of anger because on top of the four pillows, was this adorable note that one of the girls wrote:

I know it's a little hard to read, so I'll recreate it for you:

Dear Mrs. S,
I am sincerely grateful for your generous gift of pillow. It was the key ingredient to the success of our fair show. Happy belated birthday. Give your pugs our most endeering love. Thanks again for your gracious gift! Lilly B.

Yes she spelled endearing wrong and she probably could have rewritten the note rather than given me a scribbled out copy, but the sentiment was absolutely adorable, and made me think to myself, "It's moments like these that make me remember why I teach junior high." I don't think I would have ever received such a funny, ridiculous note from any other age group than middle school. When they try you, they try you, but when they make you laugh, it is real and true.

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