Since starting the foundations program I have seriously considered becoming a middle school language arts teacher for many reasons. First, I have always had a passion for reading, and I want to ignite this passion in young adults. I want students to leave my classroom at the end of the year and think of reading as pleasurable and interesting, not as a task they have to complete for school. Similarly, I want students to see the value in writing. I had one great English teacher in high school that I credit with getting me through college with a good GPA because she taught me how to write well. I want to be this teacher to my students, and I think I am capable of doing it.
Besides loving the content, I also enjoy this age group. I find them hilarious, easy to relate to, and very intelligent. Sometimes I question whether I have the patience to be an elementary general education teacher, and I think the answer to that is to teach middle school. Not only are the students older, but they also switch classes so instead of having a class of thirty students for the entire year, I will have 5 different classes of 30 students throughout the day. This is the variety that I think I need to stay interested and passionate about my job.
After saying all this, I should probably make it clear that I haven't had that much experience in a middle school. One of my practicums was in a 7th and 8th grade classroom, but it was in a school that housed K-8, which is a different atmosphere than a separate middle school. Although I didn't think too highly of the teacher at that practicum, the students were a lot of fun. I loved hearing about their drama-filled lives and offering my "wise" advice. And their sense of humor was always entertaining. But I wasn't really in a position of authority there, and I never had to plan and execute any lessons. I wonder if my love for this age group would be different if I was put in that position.
So...I am excited to begin this middle school practicum and learn as much as I can about middle school and middle schoolers. As crazy as it sounds, this experience has the potential to make me more passionate about teaching middle school, or to change my mind and turn me off of it completely. Because I've had so little experience in a middle school classroom, this experience becomes infinitely more important.
A little about the class that I will be observing, due to scheduling conflicts we were unable to come in this week to observe, but we did meet our teacher and see the school. The school building houses 6th-8th grade and it is in a suburban city. On a tour of the school, I could feel the difference between the middle school atmosphere and the elementary school atmosphere. I felt a little out of place there since I've grown to be very comfortable in elementary school settings.
One thing that I wish I could say was unimportant, but in reality it is, is the fact that our teacher has MS. She uses crutches to get around her classroom, and a scooter to get around the school. She explained that her students are extremely helpful, and while we were there two boys that had stayed after school to help her arrange her desks and clean up the room. I am really looking forward to seeing this generosity and kindness more while we are in the classroom.