“I teach seventh grade!”
“Oh, bless your heart!”
As a middle school teacher, I have that conversation a lot. People imagine middle school to be full of scary, hormonal children. They’re not completely wrong, but they are missing how awesome tweens and teens can be.
Here are my top 5 reasons why I love teaching middle school:
- Middle schoolers question everything. Don’t expect to give directions without hearing 375 questions regarding the expectations and if it counts for a grade. On the other hand, get ready to have your mind blown with deep questions about xenophobia and cultural diffusion, social hierarchies, or why the sky is blue. Be prepared to use Google!
- They wear their hearts on their sleeves. We all know middle schoolers are dealing with some intense emotions. (If you don’t believe me, just experience Valentine’s Day in a middle school.) It’s a lot. Kids want to be liked and for someone to listen. You get to be that person and push them to be their best. You get to hear about the breakups and the crushes, while also shaping them into the next generation of leaders. It’s fascinating!
- Middle schoolers’ attitudes are contagious. One kid’s mood can change the whole climate in your room. Sometimes, the sun shines on you and middle schoolers are the happiest creatures on the planet. Their smiles are infectious and you hit a homerun with your lesson plan; light bulbs going on left and right. I’ve never felt more like a rock star teacher than when a whole class cheered for their shy classmate who won our historical March Madness debates.
- They can be harsh critics. If you’re going to ask their opinions – and you definitely should – be prepared for brutal honesty. I love to survey my classes regularly and use the feedback to refine strategies or class expectations. Surveys have also helped me learn that 7th graders sometimes think I desperately need fashion help or music recommendations. Regardless, great feedback!
- They’re nostalgic for elementary…but want to be treated like adults. They dream of the future and can’t wait turn 16 and get their license. They talk about what they’re going to do when they grow up and where they’ll go to college. But, they’re still kids. They go nuts over a review game; they beg to play outside or color pictures. (Just don’t try to treat them like they’re 5. You’ll never hear the end of it.)
Mary-Owen Holmes has served as a seventh grade Social Studies teacher in Maury County Public Schools for the last five years. While at Spring Hill Middle School, Mary-Owen has served as Department Chair, Instructional Coach for Project-Based Learning, Teacher Liaison for the MCPS Tennessee Teacher Leader Network, cheerleading coach and on the school leadership team. Mary-Owen was a 2016-2017 SCORE Tennessee Educator Fellow and is passionate about the impacts of technology, diversity, and cultural education within schools. Mary-Owen serves on the steering committee for the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance, as well as one of the co-moderators for Social Studies Chat (#sschat) on Twitter. She is a member of the Tennessee Council for Social Studies and the National Council for Social Studies and has participated in both range finding and item review for TNReady. Mary-Owen holds a B.A. in Political Science and Communications, as well as an M.Ed. in Teaching, Learning and Leading from Lipscomb University. In August 2017, Mary-Owen completed an Ed.S. focusing on Technology Integration, also from Lipscomb. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.