When I tell people I teach middle school, the general reaction I get is, “Oh. Well, I guess somebody has to do it! Better you than me!” I understand where that comes from. Believe me. I cringe when I think of the loud, obnoxious, f-bomb dropping middle schoolers on the bus I rode to school. Even when I was one of them, I was embarrassed by their behavior. I still wonder how the gentle and very conservative brethren farmer who drove the bus part-time tolerated their mouths. They were downright disgusting at times.
As a teacher, however, I’ve had a different experience. I firmly believe if you give kids a platform to shine, they will. My students are funny, smart, and genuinely excited to be in class. I would imagine that this is mostly because I am bringing the same attitude to the table that I expect from them. That’s generally the way things work with the kids in my classroom.
I was going through some of the little index card profiles that I had them fill out at the beginning of the year and shaking my head and smiling. I wanted to share some them with you. I don’t ask them for contact information, as I can get that online. I ask them to tell me one interesting fact about themselves, one talent they have and one thing about their families. The following responses cracked me up, made me feel warm and fuzzy or scared me.
“My talent is shooting a gun, always in a kill zone and people say I have an eye for photography.”
-Wow, Monique. Remind me not to piss you off. I’d like to think that this “kill zone” reference is because your family hunts. Crossing my fingers, here. Would you take some holiday pics for my family? Merci!
“I can move the tendons on my knuckles. I can put my thumb behind my hand.”
-Thanks for sharing, Claudine. Congratulations? Moving tendons? Ew.
“I can do almost every flip on a trampoline. My mom and dad are very nice.”
-Aw, Bruno! I need to e-mail this to your mom! The trampoline flips kind of scare me, though. Not gonna lie.
“When I was little I fell and my two front teeth went through my lip.”
-Ouch. (I get lots of horrible injuries as interesting facts.)
“I can vibrate my eyes.”
-Kid, you’re going places.
“Two people in my family are adopted.”
-I love when kids share adoption stories with me.
“I almost lost my eye when I was little.”
-I am so glad both of your eyes are still with you, Sébastien.
“I love hot sauce. I can make a popping sound with my cheeks.”
-I love hot sauce, too! Cheek popping? I’d ask to hear this but then I’d be plagued with it for the duration of the school year.
“One mom, one dad, one sister, one dog.”
-I love how this kid gets to the point.
“Sometimes I slobber when I sleep.”
-Heh. Join the club.
And, my personal favorite…
“I rebuke cake or pie. I hate it. I want more sammiches.”
-What can I add to that? This kid used “rebuke” and sammiches” as part of the same thought. Brave, Didier. Bravo.
The moral of the story? Middle school kids can be great if you take a minute to get to know them. Some are jerks, too. But mostly, they’re pretty cool.