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I heart Middle School

I teach middle school. Yes, I chose to teach middle school. I have taught every grade from 6 through 12 and middle school is my happy place. When I moved and had to find a new job, the first places I looked were middle schools. In middle school the kids are old enough to have serious, adult-like conversations. But sometimes, they forget that they are trying to be all adulty and they act like kids. It's the best of both worlds. Yes, they can be moody and difficult as they try to navigate their way through the roller coaster ride that is puberty. But it is an awesome privilege to be a part of their lives as they try to figure out who they are and who they want to be.
Having fun with my students at Frost Valley.
My first formal teaching job was in a middle school. We were a new school with very green teachers. There were four classrooms, 6 teachers and a whole lot of sixth graders. I went in on the first day nervous and excited. I love science, love teaching science and I love working with kids. I was going to rock it! Fast forward a couple of months and I was crying in the stairway as one of my colleagues watched the class. Knowing the content was a great first step but I was definitely not prepared for the challenges of classroom management in a middle school classroom. There were some days I stayed home because I couldn't bring myself to face the kids. With more than a few tears and help from a colleague that is probably the reason I made it through that year (thanks Ted!), I made it to the end of the year.

One of the great things about teaching is that every year can be a do-over. I was ready for my do-over. Then I found out I was going to be teaching the same kids the next year...and again the year after. Every mistake I made as a new teacher followed me for 2 more years. Eek. By the third year I was done with middle school. I found out about a job opening teaching earth science in a high school a mile from my home. I jumped on it and got the job. So long middle school and good riddance!

For the next 5 (ish) years I happily taught high school. I could focus on the content and didn't have to worry as much about the management. It was lovely. I even got to teach an AP course. Then it happened. They wanted to move my course to eighth grade (the school was a 6-12 school). Noooooooo! I was not a happy camper.

But, something unexpected happened when I got back to middle school. I realized I actually liked it. A lot. Armed with more experience, I was a much better teacher than I had been when I started teaching. I could deliver my content and manage my class. And middle school kids were fun. A couple of years later when I was given the opportunity to return to high school, I actually turned it down. And a few years after that, when I had to apply for jobs, I only applied to high schools as a plan B in case I couldn't find a middle school job. Thankfully I found a place in an awesome middle school. Yay!!
Some of the great work my students have done.
As it stands right now, I am happily teaching 7th grade science in Staten Island. I love it. I can have fun with the kids. They appreciate my weird sense of humor. When I sing in the hallway they dig it. And they still (for the most part) want to learn what I have to teach them. It's my job to make sure they enjoy science enough that when they leave my classroom they want to keep learning it.

Middle school is definitely my place. It just took me a little while to figure that out.


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