Where Hope Lives...

Students arrive Thursday...this is the time of year when teachers begin to really feel panicky and wonder if they will be finished before that first foot steps over the thresh hold. Meetings and more meetings fill our days while we worry about whether or not we have an adequate beginning to this new and shiny year.

Being a teacher is a unique career...your prime directive is to fill empty students with rich knowledge that not only makes them better students, but better people. It is a job that weighs heavy on most...the enormity of it all. One day they walk into your classroom and when they leave they should be full of information, but lower on attitude.

The student transformation is one that takes place over time. When students enter school, they are wide eyed with wonder. School has no negative connotations, just joy and excitement. Every day is filled with the new and exciting. Learning to read is mind blowing and finding out that 11 isn't two as one would think, but rather one larger than ten...who knew?  Each and every thing that is learned is almost more amazing than the one before. Your fifth grade teacher was smarter than your fourth, since they taught you even more complicated ideas, and so on. You can't believe that there is so much in this world that you didn't know! As the years go by, sadly, those eyes of wonder begun to look downward, the haves and have nots begin to divide. Students that may have once been confident may start to doubt their skills. As their bodies become more awkward and hormones uncontrollable, even the most skilled student begins to question.

By high school, students are jaded, they have made their decisions regarding their beliefs around their own destiny. The decision to move forward academically or quit is often one that is sadly made in those early high school years. Often built on family success and access, students begin to align with their beliefs as to their own long term success...

But middle school is different. In middle school, there is still a glimmer...a glimmer of belief that their awkwardness in both their academics and personal selves can change. Even the most jaded eighth grader wants to believe in their teacher when they are told, "I believe in you...I am here for you." A hardened middle schooler can be turned around with persistence and encouragement from an adult who they feels is truly invested in them. Middle school, where I teach, it the turning point. It is our eyes that they look through as a lens to see themselves. Even on our bad days, we need to "bring it" because in so many ways, the enormity of our job can be overwhelming.

Middle school is its own beast. The place of raging hormones, annoying  twelve year olds, and children in grown bodies. It is the place where faith in the system and the adults that work within it are needed. More importantly, middle school is where hope lives...and in all my experience, because of that, it's the most crucial and most enjoyable place to be.

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