I’ve been wrestling with a question this last week. The teacher who took my position as seventh grade English teacher is leaving for points east, Boston specifically. She’s been a delightful colleague and we will miss her. At the end of the break my old boss, the head of the middle school, asked me to consider returning to my old position. This on the heels of a former colleague returning to school for a visit and telling me that he was surprised that I was teaching in the upper school. “I always thought you were one of those teachers that really got and enjoyed teaching middle school,” he told me. I do so I’m torn.
I love teaching seventh graders. It’s a time of constant change, both physical and cognitive, and I love being there to challenge and support them. What a wild ride that year is, and universally unpleasant in most people’s memories. I love the books we can read, the things we can explore, and the joy in discovery and mastery that can be a part of the seventh grade year. One prepare taught four times every day. Seventy two kids (on average).
In the Upper School I teach mostly upperclassmen. I’ve been there three years and I really love the kids and the books. I have four prepares: American Lit, an Elective (Autobiography and Memoir in the 1st sem and Science Fiction and Fantasy in the 2nd), Journalism, and Yearbook. I am adviser to the school newspaper and the technical adviser to the literary magazine. I am gradehead for the 11th grade (twice weekly meetings with the whole grade and special event/retreat planning). I am also on the soul satisfying/sucking Community Connections team that I have blogged about. I feel like I’ve made positive change with the relationship between the newspaper and its adviser and the yearbook and the school. I’m not sure I’m done there.
Ups and Downs
There are positives and negatives to both positions. Both divisions have teachers that are “personalities” that appear to defecate gold (though they seem to me to be more flash than substance), both have generally effective administrators with quirky management styles, and both have demands on their time that do not appear on the schedule.
So, not sure what is in store, but this is why there have been no new posts. I can’t really think about anything else outside of this. Here are my questions:
* Why do middle and lower school teachers get so little respect at our school?
* Why do people look at you with pity in their eyes when you tell them that you teach seventh grade?
* Why is it that allowing students in the upper school to respond to literature in more than one modality (not just “You will write an analytic essay, 4-5 pages long…”) makes me the “easy” teacher?
* Why do upper school teachers seem to fail to “see” every student, especially the quiet ones?
Image by flickr member Kevin Collins – Seven