As a former middle school teacher, I have spent hours in the classroom. Those hours have all been leading the class. I have taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. I have substituted for seventh and eighth grades. I love this middle school age group of eleven-to-thirteen. (As a teacher, I mean. As a parent, I find working with my own boys much more challenging!)
I had the chance to shadow an eighth grade student for a class I am taking. I essentially spent the day as an eighth grader from 8AM to 2PM. It is a long day. There are some hard chairs in school.
While treated like a thirteen-year-old in a public school, I had some observations that I wanted to share with teachers:
Please provide structure in a classroom. In the classes where it was obvious the teacher had no lesson plan or classroom procedures; other kids filled the void. The students yelled. The class ignored the teacher. It was very apparent who was in charge. It was not the adult. The class was loud, boring, and frustrating.
Please have expectations clearly stated: In the classes where the rules were posted on bulletin boards and homework baskets clearly labeled, it was easy to see how the students were supposed to operate in the classroom. Moreover, they did. There was atmosphere of calm in these rooms. Students were able to learn.
Please treat me with respect: In some classes, I felt talked down to. I felt like we were being treated as babies. When teachers asked silly questions like Do you want to have the fun activities taken away. I just wanted to shut down. I lost respect for these teachers.
As a parent of two tweens, I am going to try to realize although my children are not grown-ups; they are growing up. They also want structure, clear expectations, and respect. And as a teacher, I can’t tell you how valuable it was to switch seats with a student for one day.