Friday, August 11, 2006

The "Worst" Age to Teach

After a few year hiatus devoted to convincing the American school system that yes, I was capable of doing what I was already doing in Japan, I'm heading back to middle school teaching!

The title refers to the fact that almost every time I tell people about my choice of profession and grade level, they say something like, "I'm sorry for you." WTF is that?!

It sounds cynical, but I think people like the young kids because they are better at just doing what they are told. High School kids are often treated more like college students and when they fail, people just blame the kids. But young adolescents are tough because they are in an "in-between" phase. They question adults, but they aren't yet comfortable with adult responsibility.

It's a critical time, and a challenging time. What would you rather teach than that?

I'm going to be teaching Social Studies to 7th graders at Goodlow Magnet Elementary in Englewood, Chicago. I'm really excited! I'm even looking forward to the "decorating my classroom" and all the little mundane tasks that I normally find irritating.

Of course, the real moment I can't wait for is to meet my new students.

So in the meantime, I have a favor to ask of all of you:

I've actually never been a middle school student in the U.S., and while I feel prepared, I would love to hear some of the insight you gained from your middle school experiences. Last night, Liz and I had a close friend over for dinner, and she said she really didn't like her 6-8 experience except for watching short clips on current events at the beginning of social studies class.

So I'm curious--what did you like about your middle school experience. If you could have changed something or if you could go back and give yourself and your teachers some advice, what would you tell them?
Listed on