I’m a week into my job teaching with the home school co-op and I discovered (not really to my surprise) that I have a LOT to learn about working with middle school kids (especially since my classes are a combination of 5th-8th grade). I knew that it would be a different universe than having sophomores and juniors, I really did. But still, what a wake-up call I got this week!
1. Maybe it’s this group or the topics or maybe their age or that I’m new to the co-op or any combination of the above but something that took me an hour in a high school classroom took me 35 minutes with these kids, and that was with me stretching it out. I know it’s only been two days, but their mentality seems to be once a question is answered that’s it, regardless of how open ended I make it, no matter how many other opinions I ask for, once one student participates they act as if no one else has anything to offer, and they’re ready for the next question/point/topic.
2. I talk too fast. Yes I already knew that, but it seems as though I’ll have to slow down more than I usually do.
3. It’s painfully obvious who the “cool” kids are and who the “geeks” are, and my classes only have 4, 9, and 15 kids. I just want to hug the “geeks” and assure them I was in their shoes and that they’ll be running the world one day. I want to tell them being smart and worldly is what’s cool. I want to take the “cool” kids aside and tell them how mean and shallow they’re being (and yes I know this age group is finding themselves and figuring life out and whatnot but geeze). On Tuesday, “J” blew me out of the water with an answer to a question. While I was amazed at his train of thought and commended him for so clearly articulating each angle of the argument, I heard snickers and comments in derogatory tones about his being a human encyclopedia and other things along those lines. Depending on how next week goes, we might have to spend a class solely on non-academic stuff, and focus on being decent human beings (I would word it a lot nicer for them of course), otherwise it will be a long year.
4. Being in a co-op situation, I have unprecedented levels of parental involvement. I went from having virtually none in my last school, to a range here (depending on the parents) from none to completely up my butt. There’s going to be a huge learning curve for me in juggling what the parents want in the classroom versus the program director let alone what I’d love to do.
With all that said, the kids are great overall. The other teachers (I’m the only new one) are all really friendly and supportive. I LOVE having small classes (in my last position all my classes were 32-38 kids), I love having relative curriculum flexibility, and of course I love the flexibility it gives me in my personal life (I’m with the co-op for 2 days and with my daughter the rest of the week). I’m excited for my vision for the year, but I’m definitely definitely definitely nervous about figuring everything out as quickly as possible. I especially want to get a handle on the social stuff asap so we can have a smoother year in terms of academics. I know everything will fall into place, it always does, but I want it to happen quicker than I feel like it might.