Well, let me tell you. After teaching kindergarten and first grade for the last 21 years, I can safely say that the switch to middle school has not been an easy and uneventful switch by any stretch. Let me back it up a couple of weeks…
Around August 1st, I began moving the few boxes that did not go in my attic into my new middle school technology classroom. I also began working on projects for my administration that included filming and editing beginning of the year videos. Needless to say, I worked most days at least half a day up until the week I had to report back. And, much to my dismay, I spend most of my time getting myself together and almost no time figuring out my curriculum. Add to that my general nervousness about moving to middle school, and I was having my own little mental meltdown.
As I began my teacher inservice week, I was so excited about the amount of time in my schedule that I would be able to dedicate to my planning for my upcoming year. And then technology gave me a little wake up call. Part of my new position is being a technical liason for my campus. This campus technology is vastly different from what I was used to at the elementary level. Add to that my unfamiliarity with the process and who to route work orders too, and you have one confused teacher. By the end of the week, I had resigned myself to the fact that if I could get my first week planned, I was good to go. The school I am at also does a great job in laying out what all we have to do with each class, especially the first day.
Then, I met my students. On a Monday. I can’t remember ever beginning my school year on a Monday so that was startling enough. The first group I encountered was my homeroom of sixth graders. Then I realized I was not in “Kansas” anymore. What a huge difference in anything I had ever done or even experienced. Of course, I always have enjoyed my time with the fourth graders on my campus, but usually I had a previously built relationships from when they were in Kindergarten. These kids did know me at all and I feel like they immediately began to test me.
My fifth grade classes, 2 of them, were much easier to adjust to, as fifth graders who are new to a school tend to be more compliant. That would wear off for a few by the end of week one.
My three sixth grade classes were mind-blowing. These kids did not enjoy what they did last year, but they weren’t really buying into my enthusiasm for all the cool things we could do this year. “Jaded” would be the perfect word to describe them. I tried so hard to build relationships with them, but what I found out is that I have to show them I am serious first, then build the relationships. They want to see what I am made of and they are not going to let up for a second. Between that, and the basic interest in learning how to hack things, and I realize I am going to have my work cut out for me this semester.
By Thursday of week one, the exhaustion was setting in. It seemed like no matter how hard I worked, or how late I stayed up working, technology was not cooperating and I just couldn’t make what I wanted to happen actually come to fruition. It was very frustrating.
Then came Hurricane Harvey. I am not going to lie, I was in desperate need of a day off. I was crawling towards Friday. But this was not what I had in mind. We have been very fortunate that we haven’t gotten any water in our house or lost our power at all. But we are being pummeled by rain, day and night with no end in sight. Now we will be out another entire week of school and I worry that I am going to have to start all over again when I go back. I am taking advantage of this week to do a lot of backwards planning, deciding on having a unit on digital citizenship for both my fifth and sixth graders. I see this as a major need, just in the short amount of time that I have spent with them. They seem to have no sense of the dangers that lurk on the internet or the rules that govern the use of technology in society.
Pray for all of us in Houston this week…and say a special prayer for me that I can figure this middle school thing out sooner rather than later. I have always said if I am not uncomfortable, I am not growing. I must be growing like a weed because I am highly uncomfortable at this point.