Second blog: Moments of Awakening for the Middle School Teacher

The message:

People change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.

...Another way to say it is "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result'.

When I first started teaching, I was hard-headed....and slow!  I thought, "These middle school children should respect me because I am the adult!"  "They should do the right thing because...well....they just SHOULD!"  

Well, after beating my head up against the wall for several years, I realized I had to change some stuff or be sent off to a funny farm somewhere!

How do the quotes above apply to the middle school classroom?  What will make a teacher dig deep and take a look inside himself to make changes that can help them relate better to the children in their charge?  How bad does it have to get?  How miserable does one have to make their students before they realize they are doing a disservice to the students and to themselves?

I've worked in the public school system for 21 years, and I've seen teachers who are totally unhappy and who never take a look inward to, perhaps, see that there is a different way to do this....and that it just might work!  

I often hear teachers saying that it is the fault of someone else....and even if it is.....when you say that...when you blame others..... you become powerless to make your middle school classroom a fun-filled place of learning for the children.  Your room should not be a place they dread to go.

The Story:

In the attached video, I share the story of "We did good Mr. D".
Yes, I know the grammar is bad, but the message was right on.

It was my second year teaching middle school, and my little 8th grade girl, Asia, gently helped me have a moment of awakening, and I talk about it in the video.

Asia and her peers in my chorus class were almost all exclusively from lower middle and lower socioeconomic backgrounds.   That was the reason I failed at the endeavor I describe in the video, right!?!  No.  It was the parent's fault because they didn't volunteer to chaperone that day, right?   No.  Absolutely not.  It was the administrator's who didn't guide me enough on my first big outing, right?  Nope.

The same children had gotten top ratings with the preceding teacher under the same circumstances that I faced.

There was no excuse.  The bottom line is that what I was doing wasn't working.  I either needed to figure it out or stop teaching.

Harsh reality of the day:

It's not the principal.  It's not the school district.  It's not the parents. It's not the kids.

....It's ugly as that sounds and feels.

....and therein lies the difficult truth that set me free as a teacher and started me along the journey to be able serve and educate children more completely.  It was one of the moments I dug deep and starting brainstorming about how to get better at this job.  I still do it, and so must you.  The answers are inside of you. 

The lesson:

Each of us has gifts.  Each of us has parts of ourselves that the kids would absolutely love and enjoy at every level.  Sharing our three-dimensional selves with them is critical.  Laughing with them....telling silly stories......doing fun things.  It all helps us establish relationships with our middle school students.

How many moments of awakening will pass you by before you realize that perhaps the way you relate to the children either isn't working or could be improved in some way that would make you a more effective teacher and help them learn better? may even make you like your job more!

When we wake up and look within, we find the answers we need to be successful with this very special age group.  They learn.  They thrive.  They want more.  We enjoy them!  It's a win/win!

I hope the video gives you some fuel to get fired up for the new year.

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