Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Teaching 7th Graders

Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE teaching 7th graders? I do. My students absolutely make my day, every time. Even if I'm in a really rotten mood, it never fails that at least one of them will say or do something that either makes me shake my head in wonder, smile, or outright crack up.

I love trying to find out what they really think of me. I'm a strict teacher. For instance, I have an expectation that the beginning of class is the moment I walk into the room after the tardy bell rings. That moment should be one of complete silence which will continue until after I've taken roll and officially started our classtime. There is to be no blurting out or no noise of any kind during that sort of "sacred" beginning time of the class period. I was (and still can be if necessary) somewhat of a tyrant about it at the beginning of the year as I was establishing routines and procedures.

However, after I've officially started the class, I am a very open-minded sort of teacher who will listen, help, and generally do whatever I need to do in order to help students learn. They know this. By this point in the year, the students understand and even value my expectations for classroom behavior. I do still comment occasionally, "this is not the Jerry Springer show, if you have something to add to the conversation, raise your hand!"

When I was out last Friday, part of the assignment I left with the substitute teacher was for each student to write 3 sentences describing Ms. Whitley. I've gotten such a kick out of reading these and I want to share some of them.

"Ms. Whitley is one of my favorite teachers because I can understand what she is saying. She will also help us if we need help."
"Ms. Whitley is a great teacher, in fact, she can teach well. She is the only teacher that will talk about anything."
"Ms. Whitley is going through a divorce and is seeming to hold up very well. I think she is an amazing teacher and the funniest one at our school."
"Ms. Whitley is a very strong and extreme woman."
"Ms. Whitley is controlling in a good way. She teaches us many things. She never gives up on us."
"Ms. Whitley is as nice as a bunny."
"Ms. Whitley is very full of energy and never a negative person."
"Ms. Whitley has alot of coffee just to stand our shenanigans."
"Ms. Whitley has many very common pet peeves."
"Ms. Whitley looks young for her age." (automatic A for this student)
"Ms. Whitley is the most wonderful teacher of all. She makes me feel good inside."
And here is my favorite....
"Ms. Whitley is a caring person who only has our interest in mind. Above all, she is such a great teacher, I actually want to come to school."

I love teaching.


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Brett and Jenny Perkins said...

Wow Pam! Those are great! I don't know if you know or not, but I started teaching again this year, part-time. I am at a private school that is PK-8, so I am getting my first taste of middle school, and I love it. I am a 'resource teacher' and have been working at all grade levels on the remedial as well as gifted ends of education. Some of my favorite times of the day are with my middle-schoolers. Never a dull moment!

Joe S said...

Hi Pam,

How cool are your kids!!!? I like the "Ms. Whitley is as nice as a bunny." one. Was it a boy who said "Ms. Whitley is a very strong and extreme woman."?

BTW, what age would 7th graders be?

Jason & Nicole said...

I liked, " . . . a lot of coffee just to stand our shenanigans."

Jay said...

I can't wait until I'm in the classroom. I'll be doing high school instead of junior high, but I'm sure I'll love my job just as much as you love yours (and if not, I'm only under contract to teach for four years :-)

grace said...

Jenny: I wish we could have gotten together last weekend! *sigh* oh well. I know you must be flourishing in your teaching assignment...I hope the transition has been as smooth as possible for the rest of the family as they adjust to mom/wife having other things which take her attention. ;)

Joe: I loved the bunny one as well!!! I've been teaching similes and stressing that they come up with their own and not contrive them based on other similes they've heard. I love being compared to a bunny! :) It's funny...the "stong and extreme" comment came from a really strong and extreme young lady. Which makes me feel good in that I think I've identified with her in some way. 7th graders are 12 turning 13 here in the states. A few are 13 turning 14.

J & N: yes...i love that one as well...that was obviously from my 1st class of the day! :)

Jay: You will be awesome. Teaching sort of gets "in your blood". I would hate for you to spend one more year than necessary teaching if you knew you didn't like it. I fully trust that you will love it.

love to all,

Anonymous said...

They are not manipulative, are they? - Ha!

Tin Man

grace said...

oh yes...they are never NOT manipulatlive at that's the only language they know...
which means you really can take what they say at face value...

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