Welcome to Middle School

“It’ll be crazy.” “You’ll be calling right away, begging to come back to high school!” “Those kids are nuts!” This is what I heard the days leading up to my second placement at Forest City High School. Uh oh. I thought. I’m going to be in over my head.

middleschool1-1Monday morning: I got my materials ready and headed to my first day at Forest City Middle School. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I got to school a good twenty minutes before anyone else and sat in the hallway writing until my teacher came. I felt nervous, like a little kid starting her first day of Kindergarten.

A few hours in, I started to get comfortable. Okay, I thought. These kids aren’t too bad. I was warned a hundred times about the squirrleyness of middle schoolers, their craziness, and that they would ask tons of questions. Sure, they asked a lot of questions, and sure they ran in the hallways like little monkeys at times, but they weren’t too bad!

I tried to memorize names and get to know all the kids. The day flew by much faster than I thought! As I reflect on my first day, there’s a few things that took me completely by surprise:

  1. nobellsThere are no bells….okay, coming from a high school environment where bells are the only thing that creates structure, not having bells was the weirdest thing. My cooperating teacher said that not having bells allowed for classes to extend for a minute to get any last essential information before the students take off. So far I think it’s a smart idea. It makes the students rely on the teacher for dismissal rather than an obnoxious, terrifying sound.
  2. Standards-Based grading was going to be a challenge. Okay, I knew this going in, but as I started to learn the ins and out of formative vs. summative assessments in the Standards-Based sense, I realized that planning my own assignments and assessments might be more difficult than I thought.
  3. Knowing kids’ names makes them love you from day one. Seriously. I walked around my fourth hour and tried to say names back at the kids. When I got some of them right, their whole faces lit up! It meant the world that I was trying to know them.
  4. Spelling, grammar—throw those out the window! This isn’t high school anymore! This was a wake-up call for me. Coming from high school classes and expectations, I realized I needed to take a step back and focus on one thing at a time with student writing, looking first and foremost at the content rather than the conventions.
  5. nohomeworkThere is hardly any homework…seriously. Again, something totally different than at Mason City High School, my first placement. At Forest City Middle School, there are class sets of books, which means all reading is done in class. As for homework, a lot of it is worked on in class–almost like a flipped-classroom approach–and teachers are available to scaffold and help during class.

There are definitely some differences and some things to get used to, but the kids aren’t too bad! I think I might like it here 🙂

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