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Riding the Torrent of Middle School

I am finally in the groove. I still feel like I am fumbling through this new unit, but definitely riding the rush of middle schoolers.

Thursday I left very late after entering my grades and still felt happy and upbeat. I had funny moments from the day re-playing in my head, I was proud of the grades my students pulled off, and I was reflecting on how I do make a difference...one I can see every day.

And then today, a Friday, I just had a great day with the kids. Frustrating meeting, annoying kids, and disrespect stood in my way but I was actually able to brush it off and reflect on how the solidity of Week 11 feels. I was able to focus on the hilarious moments of the day and feel satisfied with how I handled the bumps.

At this point in the year each of my classes has a distinct personality. Each of my 5 classes is a different beast and each one is frustrating, hilarious, and unique in their own way.

Period 2 can be most easily described by imagining a dentist standing on your chest and pulling at one of your molars with over-sized pliers. There are good moments, but mainly just blank faces, sleepy eyes, and a sea of IEPs. They are failing and I feel like I am failing them. But they won't talk, won't answer questions, won't ask questions, and won't participate. I can't get a pulse, besides one annoying and negative young man that doesn't listen to anything I say and then declares to the whole class that he doesn't get it. The rest are checked-out drones. I'm going to have to work on this one.

Period 3 is a barrel of monkeys, or rather as one teacher put it last week, its like playing Whack-a-Mole. You get one down and another pops up taunting you. But I love them. They are so funny, cause more awesome and scientific tangents than I can handle, and are always looking for ways to have fun, mostly at the lesson plan's expense. They make me happy because they are so engaged and make me crazy because they can't stop.

Period 4 is huge, very needy, and includes some of my favorite stellar students. So many distraught puppy faces when I explain something new, but so much creativity and buy-in from the others. They are mostly innocent and usually enthusiastic. It's a mixed bag, but always offers something to make me smile.

Period 5 is mayhem, a zoo. Goal: keep a lid on the chaos and try to cram something down their throats during the the brief intervals of grasping their attention in a straight-jacket. They are the ones that I cannot allow to leave class unless their paper is filled in. They have so much talent that they are waisting and too much energy for the amount of info they have to memorize for these blasted state tests. I wish I could do only hands on things with them, but some days they have to take notes and they hate it. Although when I try to harness their energy for an activity it usually results in objects thrown, nasty words exchanged, and other outbursts of inappropriate behavior. I can't trust them with any object -- it will be thrown at some else's head.

And Period 6 is like an oasis at the end of a long journey through my day. I love them. They are funny, interested, curious, innocent, enthusiastic, and just so much fun. They make me happy and can turn any bad day around. They are forgiving when I am tongue-tied from saying the same thing 5 times. They are helpful in cleaning up after the other classes. They are the ones that ask intelligent questions and then yell "oh my gosh, I get it!" What more satisfaction does a teacher need at the end of the day? At the end of the week, no less. I smile now, sitting here thinking about their smiling faces.

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