Monday, September 05, 2011

Why it's a good thing middle school students haven't read "Lord of the Flies," among other things

Just like everyone else, I'm scared to go back to work tomorrow. I'm about to start a snow dance for an early September cancellation.

What? It's supposed to be chilly in the morning. It could happen.

I get this way sometimes, especially after a long weekend. I'm sure you do, too. But are you in charge of middle schoolers?

I'm in charge of 121 eighth graders and 28 seventh graders. You have to remember, they're all between the ages of 12 to 14, mainly 12 and 13. These not-so-little beings can't always handle "unstructured" time. You tell them, "Please, use this time wisely to work," and you've got a room crawling with hyper-active kids who talk over each other until the noise boils into a rolling roar. They need their time scheduled out to a T, as in: read this, now answer questions, now breath, make sure your heart is beating, now scratch your nose, pick that wedgie, squeak out a fart and continue reading. This, I have learned with middle school students, is the only way to prevent anarchy. If you give them an inch of downtime, they will try to overthrow you.

Have you ever been a lunch room monitor? If these kids knew about "Lord of the Flies," the three lunch room monitors would be in dire trouble. They're all one inch away from being overthrown. All the adults in the building are one inch away from being overthrown.

That's not necessarily what I'm scared of. It's the planning. Even though I'm in my eighth year of teaching, there are always random weeks where I draw a blank and I'm not as planned as I normally am. This four-day week is one of them. Don't get me wrong, there's a ton to do, I have 150 students to train to become little designers and journalists, but sometimes it's overwhelming. These are the times when I sit and freak out about my schedule and planning, realizing I may not have enough planned.

I have to remember, though, that these are the times when, if I don't focus, the ideas come to me. Usually when I'm singing in my car on the way to school in the morning.

Do you have that, regardless of what you do?

It's always when I don't think about running my classroom when I get my brilliant idea on how I will run my classroom. By not thinking about it, the genius idea strikes me.

It also doesn't help to know that I'm heading into week 5 of this school year. There are a ton of students who haven't even had their first day of school...

And...I'm in charge of a yearbook. That's enough to make everyone a little bit nervous.