Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Teacher

This month’s book for my Book Club was Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Now before you go and judge me, let me clarify something. This Book Club is for adults. It’s just that we like to stretch our minds, our horizons and we like stretch pants, too. But that’s another matter. What I am trying to say is we like to read all sorts of genres...even children’s books. And I must say, I found this book surprisingly entertaining…especially since I am stuck teaching in a middle school setting right now for the remainder of the year. Eighteen days and counting!

Since I escaped semi-retired from teaching five years ago, I have landed some interesting jobs. Specifically, I have worked as a secretary, nurse, babysitter, tutor, part time GED instructor, Pre-K substitute teacher and 3rd grade substitute teacher.

However, to date, I have never been as challenged as I have been since getting suckered into accepting this current teaching position.

Middle school is not for wimps!

Where else will can you be mowed over by a rolling backpack, critiqued for your choice of clothing, ignored, referee drama, counsel a broken heart, and administer medication to self all before 8:30 am? I'm talking about ME here! I tell you it's a battlefield!

The first day of this job, realizing I was not in my comfort zone, my oldest son texted me and said "Don''t worry, Mom you''ll do fine. If you feel out of place, insecure, strange or just plain awkward you are not alone. Middle schoolers are hopelessly awkward. You are in good company." Such wisdom and truth in those words.

Greg Heffley (main character in Diary of a Wimpy Kid) says "Middle school may be the dumbest idea ever," Nell Minow , a movie critique says "The reason that middle school is so agonizing is that it is the time when we first realize that we would really like to be cool at the same time we are struck with the horrifying realization that we have no idea how to get there. It is a time of agonizing self-examination, growing uncertainty about everything we thought we knew, diminishing willingness to rely on our parents, and the terrifying conviction that everyone else seems to have it figured out. It is the time of the great hormone divide, where boys who look like they are 10 share a classroom -- and a locker room -- with kids who look like they could be in college. It is a time when we rethink everything we thought we knew about who we are and what we want from our friends. So much suddenly seems GROSS and EMBARRASSING. Everything suddenly seems so disgusting we end up projecting all of those feelings onto some weird object like a piece of moldy cheese, which then assumes urban legendary status with the power to cooty-fy anyone who touches it. And in the middle of this we are also expected to live through algebra and PE."

So, what to do as I walk among the aliens middle-schoolers? How to survive?

I think the best thing to do is find the humor, the joy in the madness. Knowing that "One day middle school will end and become high school. And after that, it just becomes life. And all those things you think are important now won't be anymore." (character 'Angie Steadman' from the book Diary of a Wimpy Kid)


{BlueEyedYonder} said...

Haha! You gotta love middle school. Taylor's text could not have been more true. Middle school is just that...the middle. Not quite a child anymore, not yet an adult. A daily struggle to figure out who you are and more importantly who you want to be. Middle School is such a pivot point, the elbow in the education body...those that teach middle school have a profound impact on the direction a lot of those lives will take; one of the most influential jobs ever! Enjoy it!

katie said...

You have definitely entered an area that is difficult to work in, but can be so rewarding once finished. These students are trying to figure out what the heck is going on with their life and how they fit in with the world. They are starting to emerge from their parent's almost complete supervision and protection to learn how to stand on their own a little bit. It's a weird time for them. As a teacher you have so much influence in their lives at this weird time. I think bringing humor into the classroom is a great way for students to feel more relaxed so they will be able to learn better. You can also become someone they admire and respect; someone they one day want to become. And, at this age, if they find someone they admire they will try to mimic you. You have more power than you think as a middle school teacher, well as a teacher in general. I am going into the teaching profession and am very excited about it. I know, I know, there are so many challenges like you've said. I am a little worried about that, but I think I'm going to take your advice and try to be flexible and allow humor to be part of the classroom environment.