Tuesday, November 30, 2004
( 7:01 PM )
Ah, Middle School!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I am now into my 2nd day of my brief two-week internship/observation at a middle school. I'm in an 8th grade social studies classroom. The teacher is really great - it's his second career, and he absolutely loves the kids. He reminds me of weblacky... he knows all the tricks and personalities and stories behind the scenes, but the kids just really excite him and make him happy. It's totally obvious how much he loves being with the kids. But boy is it CRAZY! The girls and their emerging skill at manipulation, the really short boys who haven't caught their growth spurt yet (and therefore look like they are 8 years old, and it can be really disorienting for someone like me, coming from a high school where virtually every boy is a foot taller than me), and the kids who are all trying in their own way. What I notice is different about middle school right off is that, as opposed to high school, it's really personal. There is real relationship between the teacher and kids, the kids see him sort of as a stand-in parent, where they seek affection and test boundaries in the same breath. It's a lot different than the enforced institutionalized anonymity of public high school.
So far, I'm really enjoying it. It's definitely VERY different. It's good, because it's helped me to overcome assumptions and fears I had about junior high. Though I think I still like the older kids and their subjects, I definitely am much more ready to entertain other options, like 8th grade.
They are learning US History, from Revolution to 1900. The teacher is after my own heart and teaches the way I have planned to teach and have so far taught in high school. He's thrown out the textbook and he teaches this timeline in 6 units - basically teaching the same history in 6 different ways: from the point of view of Native Americans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, Immigrants, Women and Workers. He uses Zinn liberally and the kids have really gained a lot of critical thinking skills about history. It's pretty inspiring.
I'm looking forward to the rest of my two-week stint.