Loving my 3rd graders

So here I am, halfway through the semester, and I’m still waiting for things to get… bad. I had been warned so many times about these middle schoolers. That they’re troublemakers, that discipline is a huge issue, that they will make me crazy.

I keep expecting to hit some kind of horrible turning point and start losing all of my classes, but so far it hasn’t happened. My kids and I have good days and bad days. Some classes are consistently better, some are consistently more difficult. Some weeks (like this week – post-midterm-exhaustion) the kids are apathetic and unresponsive. Other weeks most of them participate well. Sometimes kids sleep or do other homework during my class, and sometimes they don’t.

I don’t want to say anything to jinx myself here, but these kids are honestly sweethearts. They have such a sweetness about them, such an air of fresh innocence. I’m sure some of them do get into some serious trouble once in awhile, but what I’ve seen thus far has been mischief more so than troublemaking. Throwing erasers at each other, stuff like that. Early on, I did have a group of boys pull out the cardboard insert from a pack of pantyhose (i.e., an image of a woman with very long stocking-clad legs and high heels) – which was promptly confiscated by my co-teacher, and they thought it was hilarious. (And the mischief is purely from the boys… the girls are really good basically all the time.)

Yes, I’ve had a few out-of-control-chatty classes in the past, but I blame that on myself for my poor classroom arrangement choice. We are never making groups with their desks turned towards each other again, I can tell you that much. Wouldn’t any group of 15-year-olds start chatting with each other during class if you seat them literally face-to-face and give them downtime while you’re working with another group?

So what I’m saying is, I really, really, really love my 3rd graders. Which is why it kind of devastated me when I was informed that for the second semester this year (starting in August), I’m switching to 1st graders at my main school. (I’ll continue to teach all three grade levels at my small school.)

Don’t get me wrong – 1st graders are adorable (the only middle school grade where they still have that adorable “little kid” vibe to them, at 12/13 years old), and I think they’ll actually be easier to teach because they still have that vivacity and enthusiasm left over from elementary school.

But… but… my 3rd graders!

Sigh.

Life is a constant ebb and flow of beginnings and endings, introductions and farewells, joys and sorrows. The more we can learn to relax into that ebb and flow, embracing the things that come and releasing the things that go, the happier we’ll be.

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