May 22, 2013

Smells Like Preteen Spirit

Spring is in the air. So are hormones.

Seemingly overnight, my 6th graders have transformed from hilarious, intelligent, focused young boys and girls into.. dun dun dun.. PRETEENS.  There are hormones everywhere. Oh god, the hormones. I swear I'm going to start breaking out just from being in their presence.

Today is a perfect example. I made the 6th graders a new seating chart (at their request, I might add) and implemented it today. I know them well enough to be able to seat them by ability, putting the strongest students next to a weaker student so the weaker gets help and the stronger gets to reenforce his/her knowledge through teaching. I also always sit them boy-girl, because after the initial awkwardness it usually serves to balance the room out and keep anybody from getting into too much trouble.

The key word in that sentence is usually. When it goes wrong, it goes very, very wrong. I'm still not even sure what happened today. I was calling out seating assignments and getting the usual amount of grumbling and giggling, but then I called out two names and all hell broke loose.


Oh. My god.

I wasn't about to let some 6th grade drama interfere with my perfectly balanced and calibrated (read: done in 10 minutes after lunch) seating chart, so I laid the smackdown on the class and told them to sit down. But it didn't stop there. The girl, Katie, was so mortified to be sitting next to this particular boy that she actually moved her desk several feet away from his. The desks are put together in pairs, so she was a little desk island in a sea of doubles. She remained this way throughout the class. You would think this was the end of it, right? Wrong. The class continued to taunt them until she was reduced to tears and I had to go full-on Serious Teacher on them.  We had to have a class talk about the word "respect" and how we need to be nice to our teacher and be nice to our friends. We (I) talked about how yes, English class is fun and yes, Megan Teacher is fun, but this is still learning time and we need to respect each other.

Shit got real.

This wasn't even the only hormone-fueled incident in class today. I had another pair in the front row who also refused to sit near each other, despite the fact that they were perfectly friendly last week and I see them talking in the hallway all the time. I told them calm down, you're not going to die. Eventually they settled down enough to get some work done, but we barely made it through the lesson and I had to sneakily slip Katie some tissues during the video clip because she was still crying. Now I have to talk to her tomorrow and ask if she really does want to change seats, and if so, figure out a way to do it without causing a big scene and just exasperating the issue.

Oh, the life of a teacher.

It actually occurred to me today that for all that I document about my life here, a surprisingly small amount is dedicated to the people I spent more time with than anybody else: my students.

Because my school is so small, I actually have the chance to be a part of my students' lives and get to know them. They all have English names for English class, but I know a fair number of their real names as well. I have the group of giggling 6th grade girls, Hannah, Alexa, Rachel, and Gina, who come hang out in my classroom after school every so often and challenge me to games on their phones.

I have the 4th grade boy, Trevor, who likes to run in one door, sprint along the far wall, and dart out the other door with a quick "hello teacher!"

 I have the 2nd grader, Brandon, who is a sweetheart in the hallways but disruptive in class because he's very bright and grasps things quickly.

I have another 4th grade boy, Andy,  who comes and gives me two-handed high fives continuously while we talk.

I have the girl (and the unfortunate subject of today's events), Katie, who likes to duck into my room when she's hiding from her friends (or, increasingly, her male classmates).

All these little faces are such a part of my daily life, and yet there's almost no documentation of them on here. I'm going to start trying to do a few little student profiles each week so that you can get a glimpse of them. It's also partly selfish. When I'm looking back on this year, I want to be able to remember the miniature people who were such a big part of it.

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