Are you ever going to grow up?

Are you ever going to grow up? 

Suggestions for the Middle School Teacher

I was on the phone with one of my dearest friends from my college days at
UNC-Greensboro recently.  I don’t recall what we were talking about, but all of the sudden, she said to me while laughing, “Are you every going to grow up?”

Gosh, I hope not.

I’m 53 years old, and I suppose that technically, by now, I am a grown up.  J

….But I have never wanted to act like a grown up…especially while I am teaching my middle school children.

Growing up has always sounded so awful.

As a child, after vacation time was over, I remember hearing the dreaded words, “Back to reality.”

And I often heard “Wait until you get into the ‘real world’”. 

Sounds like a horrible place.

I was never really interested in that.

I’ve taught for 26 years, and I’ve heard many things yelled at children by teachers who should probably not be teaching this age group:

“Why do you ask stupid questions like that?”
“What is wrong with you?”
“Shut your mouth.”
“Was I talking to you?”
“Why can’t you act like a decent human being?”

What makes anyone think that saying things like this to a child who is 11-14 years old is a good approach?  Does anyone really think that it is going to make them want to work hard for us? 

Should we hold our students accountable?  Absolutely.  100%.

Should we have moments of seriousness with them when we are making significant and important points about responsibility?  Yes!

…But we have to remember, we get more bees with honey than vinegar. 

Middle school children will make our lives hell on earth if we are unnecessarily mean to them. 

They must know that we care about them.

We absolutely have to laugh with our children every single day.  We mustn’t be afraid of silly humor.  They love it!

When we get too serious with students in this age group, they turn off, and they don’t want to sing.

So, I continue to act silly and laugh as often as I can with my students.  It keeps me excited about teaching them and keeps us all giggling while we are learning. 

It’s better that way.  It makes the journey a happy one. 

Keep reminding yourself what it was like when you were age 11-14.  We liked to move.  We liked to be silly.  We had crushes.  We didn’t understand what was happening to our bodies.  We were awkward.  Most of us didn’t know what we wanted, and for those of us who did, we didn’t know how to work toward it.  Some of us didn’t feel worthy.  Some of us were handed everything and didn’t know how to work for something of our own. 

The list goes on.

Have I grown up?  Absolutely!

But, I want to stay in touch with what it was like to be a child for the rest of my life, and I think that any person who chooses to be a teacher must stay in touch with that feeling and NOT allow ourselves to ever become so “grown up” that we do things and say things that squelch the little spirits who are longing to find the ways to work toward their dreams. 

When we are kind to our students….when we laugh with them….when they know we care about them, they know it.   And besides...people who grow up don't want to get into the pool anymore because it's too cold or too hot or they are worried about how they look or whatever...

I think we have to keep getting wet.  

Give it a try.  I dare you!

It will change the dynamic in your middle school classroom.

And watch this video.  It's one of my favorite songs from the musical Matilda called "When I grow up".

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