Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Unsung heroes of K-12 education

First off let me say, that the purpose of this article is not to be self-serving, I will admit now to having been a middle schools teacher for about 10 years; the purpose is to shed some positivity on the strange institution called middle school.

When I first started teaching in the early 1990s, I met a lot of teachers who talked about “doing time” at middle school, or “escaping the hell” of middle school. Let us face it; middle school students are completely insane: there are hormones raging, their bodies are growing, they temporarily lose their brains, and I have a strong suspicion that all middle school cafeterias add some kind of psychedelic stimulant to the food for flavor. Unbelievably, I purposely sought out middle school and I relished almost every (not every moment, I am human) moment of it because it because there was never a dull moment.

Have you ever seen a bumblebee break dance in the middle of a hallway? I have seen it in middle school. Have you ever seen a soap opera played out in real life by lots little people? That is middle school. It has its good days and bad days, but there is a pay off which I will get to in a moment.

I left the classroom in 2006, and over the last 5 or 6 years, I have started to get wedding invitations, birth announcements, and my all time favorite: college graduation announcements. They were from my former students and they remembered me fondly! Yes, I was tough on them, yes, I expected the best from them and accepted no excuses, and guess what? Years later, they thanked me for it, because they said they knew I truly cared about them. That is the pay off.

So, you dedicated middle school teachers out there, stick with it because the students need you. Do not try and escape to the “cushy” high school setting, and do not listen to the negative comments on the pains of teaching middle school. Your students really need you and some day they will let you know.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

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