Middle school kids are different. They’re awkward, and at a crossroads,developmentally I think they are at a chasm, an Indiana jones like situation, with one foot out leaning over the cliff hoping that what they have been doing is the path for then and that there will be a catwalk to stand on. Sometimes it’s there, and other times it’s not and kids fall flat on their face in humiliation.
When I as in middle school I think for the most part I played it safe and rarely missed the catwalk so to speak. I remember a classmate saying to me that “everyone likes you”. I was lucky.
As a teacher I am confronted every day with students that have tough home lives, learning disabilities, medical problems, bad friendships or behavior issues. Differentiation is much more in a classroom than it is in a textbook.
What excites me about middle school is that you see those kids with their foot out every day. They are wondering where they fit in, are they going to step on an invisible bridge that leads to success? Or trouble? Or miss entirely?
I see kids take the wrong step daily. They choose the wrong friends, put in little effort or just miss in social situations with their peers. This is middle school, and a huge part of being a teacher in these grades goes beyond curriculum to citizenship. Can we help push our students to the right bridge? We can try. We have to, their futures depend on it, because if a student who is smart and has a bright future starts hanging out with the wrong crowd they might never make it out of high school. I’ve seen smart kids, during middle school make that choice that will dictate the rest of their academic life. It’s scary that unconscious decisions in middle school can affect a student so much. but teachers are there for these kids and are always looking for the best interests of their students.
So, teach middle school and see first hand how your teaching can change the trajectory of a students life, and push them to take that step which leads them to success!