Married to the Empire

Friday, March 28, 2008

School Days, School Days

That's a song, I think. Ever wondered what it's like to be an adult venturing into the jungle known as Middle School? Wonder no more because here is a snapshot of my day.

As soon as I entered the hallway, I noticed an odor that was faintly reminiscent of cat pee. I think it was simply the lingering scent of sweat and hormones. The weather is warming, and the kids are starting to stink. They brought the odor of feet into the classroom with them. This reminded me of a question to add to my list of things to ask God when I get to heaven: Why did he make humans so smelly during puberty?

Walking down the hall, I overheard this bizarre conversation:
"You can inject anything into you. I could inject a squirrel into me, except I'd probably eat it." This was followed by some talk of syringes. I was left wondering what on earth could have started that conversation! (I probably don't even have to tell you that boys were the ones talking about this.)

You know that an 8th grade boy is secure in his social standing when he carries an Elmo backpack. A cool kid can get away with this and be thought of as cute and funny. Any other kid would be teased mercilessly over it. Such is the paradox called popularity.

The one girl in a class full of boys complained about being the only girl, but I think she was secretly pleased with all their attempts to garner her attention through the annoying acts that 7th grade boys mistake for flirting.

I was frustrated to have to call classrooms to track down missing students, then wait for them to arrive in tutoring. I failed to understand how a teacher could sound so unsure of herself, saying that she'd been trying to get a student to go. I wondered if her classroom was chaotic due to her obvious uncertainty of her own authority. The student in question eventually huffed into my class, but easily settled into work. I actually got a smile out of her when I told her she got all the answers right, thus pulling her out of her sullen state. Victory!


becky s. said...

Perceptions are another funny part of sharing life with the younger generation. One of my favorite memories of life as a 22-year-old grad student:

MS student: How old are you?
Me: How old do you think I am?
MS student: Oh, about 40.

AnneK said...

That was a good snapshot into your teacher life.

I tutored "kids" for 2 years as a TA in grad school. My oldest kid was 64 who suddenly realized she wanted to come back and get a degree. I taught kids from 17-64 from all over the world. It was truly the best experience ever.

Cathy VanPatten said...

One of my associate editors and I went on classroom visits yesterday to a K-8 school in the northwestern part of Chicago. We observed a 5th grade class and a 6th grade class. The thing that floored me was how much bigger the 6th graders were than the 5th graders. I sure don't remember growing that much between those two grades, but it sure was evident! And the 6th graders were much better behaved. Of course, that was probably down to the teacher!

I never taught in elementary school. I did my student teaching in 12th grade and I taught college freshmen, so I always find sitting in on elementary classes to be fascinating. But I'm always glad I don't have to teach them! ;->

Ewokgirl said...

Oh Becky... I'm laughing, and yet I'm cringing all at the same time! I guess I'm lucky; my students last year guessed that I was 28 when I was actually 33. Of course, when I taught high school at the ripe old age of 22, I was always get yelled at by other teachers because they assumed I was a student in places I shouldn't be. Looking back at photos from that time, I can see why; I looked about 15! Yet at the time, I totally thought I looked at least my age.

Annie, I didn't realize you'd done any teaching/tutoring. It really can be very rewarding.

Cathy, I'm always astounded by how small the 6th graders are and how big the 8th graders are. Some of my students from last year pass by my classroom, and I can't believe how those little boys are now starting to look like men!

Ann said...

That happened to me too, Anne Marie! When I was first teaching, the Industrial Ed. teacher actually kicked me out of the office, thinking I was a student trying to take supplies. It was so embarrassing for both of us. But it always gave us something to talk about/joke about.