See ya later, 6th Grade!

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I remember the spring day that my principal paged down into my classroom. “What time are your students going to gym today?” she asked. “1:50,” I replied back. “Perfect,” she said. “Can you please come down to Mrs. Hamilton’s office after you drop off your students. We would like to talk to you.”

Instant fear crept through my body…My first year teaching self began to question…”Did I do something wrong?” “Am I going to find out today I’m not being asked back?” “Did I forget to do something?” I stressed, and stressed, and stressed. Finally, 1:50 rolled around. I dropped off my students at gym and headed to my assistant principal’s office trying to appear calmer than I felt.

As I sit down and faced my two administrators, the smiles on their faces instantly calmed me down. And then they hit me with it. News I never expected….I was going to be moving up to teach junior high.

Teach junior high…me? I student taught in third grade, completed a maternity leave in third grade, did great with sixth grade… What did I know about teaching junior high? I had seen those junior high students of course…the eyes rolling, the ever present sigh of not being understood by their teachers yet again, the fact that the majority of them towered above me…

As I battled back tears, yup…I was REALLY upset, I thanked them both for the opportunity…the new challenge. And challenge it was.

My first year in junior high was a huge adjustment. Rather than learning the names of just 26 students, I had 110. There were new curriculums to learn, rules and procedures to memorize, a brand new schedule (five classes vs. just one),  a new team to get to know…Leaving behind my 6th grade team was hard…I had depended on them so much…and they’d become such wonderful friends.

It was very different. It was difficult. I doubted myself…the kids tested me…and I’m pretty sure I was in my assistant principal’s office crying everyday…

But as I found my footing and became more confident in my self and in what I was doing, I began to enjoy junior high a little more. My students understood my sarcasm, and gave it right back to me. I loved chatting with them about the books they were reading, their interests, their goals in life. The older ones started to grow on me.

And then it happened…I fell in love. It wasn’t during my first year, but gradually overtime. These older students….the ones that towered over me with their teenage, hormonal attitudes hooked me, began to grown on me. And as I spent more time with them, I could see I began to grow on them just a little bit, too.

But don’t tell my principal…I’m still trying to convince her that third grade is the place for me!

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5 responses »

  1. I can completely relate to this. I moved up from a 4/5 split to 8th grade at my school. I sucked at teaching 8th grade for the first couple years. I did not have a thick enough skin for it. By the time I had taught this age group for five years, I started to have a handle on it, and I definitely grew to be one of their favorite teachers. However, I was ecstatic when offered the chance to come back down to 4th grade and I am loving it this year. I’ll cross my fingers for you to have that 3rd grade offer soon.

  2. enjoyed your post. I, too, have had this experience and ended up loving the older kids. I’ve even moved on up to high school now—and am loving it after 13 years at the middle school

  3. I’m pretty sure your assistant principal will not let 3rd grade be an option either! Junior high students are their own breed and it takes a special person to deal with them! You are one of those special people!

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