Sunday, September 18, 2016

Awkward Middle School Conversations

Can You Handle It?

Dear Readers,

I was inspired, after reading this book, to blog about the unique challenges we Middle School Educators face on a daily basis. There is no question about it, Middle School is an awkward time for many. Not only are students going through relationship changes, academic changes and social changes, they are also experiencing hormonal changes as well. It is such an honor to work with this age group. They are trying to find themselves and where they fit in their world.

Working in middle school has actually made me a more patient and understanding educator. I have learned so much from this age group about teenagers in general and myself as a teacher. They are such a fun age where they are caught between childhood and adulthood. It has been my experience that sometimes we need to be serious, but they will also come along for the ride and have fun with crazy ideas! 

They will push you away one moment and then come to you in tears the next wanting comfort and support. They will backtalk one day and tell you they love you the next. They will moan and groan about assignments one minute and tell you how much they enjoy your class the next. In one breath they will decide they are not going to be friends with someone and the next they come to your room together for lunch as though nothing happened. I have had students come running into my room in tears and running up to hug me in the hallway. I have had the challenges of good friends having difficulties while both being in my class and then the relief they feel when they make up. We have to be supportive through all of it. They need to feel a safe, secure, supportive learning environment. They need us to teach them skills and strategies for entering a "grown-up" world. We need to be caring, supportive, patient adults who are role models, listen and attempt to understand their worlds. It really is all about relationships.

Just a few of the topics I have found myself in a conversation about in one way or another are (yes, each one is true):

  • Eating Disorders
  • Suicide
  • Cutting
  • Depression
  • Being friends with someone making poor choices
  • How to talk to friends that have hurt their feelings
  • Constipation (what foods to eat, avoid)
  • Menstruation (including what to do in the horrifying event of an accident)
  • Acne
  • Braces
  • Weight
  • Curly Hair
  • Bullying
  • Nobody to sit with at lunch
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Loss of a pet
  • Loss of friendships

These are just to name a few. Our middle schoolers are amazing young people going through tremendous changes in their lives. I have also had conversations about:

  • Leadership
  • College
  • "Boys"
  • Sleepovers
  • Dances/Formals
  • Making good choices
  • Being healthy
  • Organization
  • Time Management (including academic/social/athletic/etc.)
  • Loving yourself for who you are (curly hair and all)
  • Getting ready for High School
  • Music/Movies/TV Shows
  • Snapchat (social media they use)
  • Gaming 

I love every minute of getting to know them. I embrace the awkward teenage years with open arms. I hope they remember me as a supportive adult during their middle school years.

I hope you have a wonderful week!