This weekend I spent some time with my fellow grammar nerd and good buddy, Chelsey Murphy. While we were out and about, we happened to catch a few loud insults to the English language, causing the two of us to cringe, making wary sideways glances between ourselves. To what is this world coming?! 🙂 Oh, I know, I know, I don’t always speak or write with perfect grammatical precision, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know the rules. So anyways, I was hanging out with Chelsey and heard people say crazy things like, “irregardless,” which, if it were a real word, might be one of my favorites to say, but it isn’t so I try to not say it, and decided that Chelsey should be my guest blogger this Wednesday. She is one of the wisest and funniest people I know, so listen up!
Here are her musings about the English language and her life’s work as a middle school English teacher:
Ramblings from room 133
Let me start out by saying, I went to college to be a middle school english teacher. So for it being my first year out of school, and I’m teaching middle school english– I consider myself to be very blessed. I wanted to be a teacher because of how much I would cringe in college at the way people would write. I have to say, now that it is December, most of my students correct themselves when talking out in class: when they say “me and my friends… i mean my friends and i…” I feel like I’m making ground, and do a victory dance in my head. I find myself learning so much about this “next generation” and thought I would share a few observations with you.
1) Love life is much different in middle school now, than it was when we were in middle school. I know it has only been 10 years since I was in middle school, but it was a HUGE deal if you held hands back in the day. I’m not going to lie, I kissed a boy or two in middle school (don’t tell my dad)– but if you knew what these kids did nowadays, you might die. I’ve picked up notes, and had talks with a few kids, telling them if they are ready to be parents right now, continue what you are doing… if not STOP. I pray every night they stop, because we all know we don’t need 12 year olds raising kids. We all know I’m not ready to be a parent, and I’m at least at a point in my life that I could support one. 12 year olds, on the other hand…
2) Lazy is an understatement. “Is this paper good enough?” “How many points will I miss if I don’t fix that?” “Are you giving us a print out of the notes?” “Is this posted on your website?” “Can you email it to my mom so I don’t forget?” Let me say… I answer: “Don’t shoot for good enough.” “For asking that question you will automatically lose a substantial amount of points.” “No” “No” “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” typical everyday conversation. However, parents are very much enabling the students to stay this way. Favorite email of the year: “[student’s name] finished his personal narrative. He left with it this morning. If he forgets to turn it in will you remind him. He might leave it in his locker.” I almost fell out of my chair. I should add that the “personal narrative” was 4 weeks late at this point. Needless to say, since I know times are tough in the educational world, and I would like to keep my job, I chose not to respond to that email. (Parents please don’t enable your children to be lazy individuals.)
I realize I just gave you 2 not so positive things I’ve learned about my kiddos… but I didn’t make a mistake with my career choice. Let me explain to you why I love what I do.
3) Don’t be quick to judge. I can’t tell you how many times in a week I will hear someone say, “Oh wow you teach middle school? Bless your heart, that is the worst group of kids. I would NEVER teach middle school. blah blah blah.” If you knew half of what these kids go through in their everyday lives, you’d be shocked. Yes they have a lot of things “easier” than we had it (google)… but we all know how much trouble we can get into when things are easy. I am blessed to work at a school with parents who are mostly educated, have jobs, kids live in nice homes, and are loved. But I have quite a few kids who have stories that will break your heart. Stories that have made me cry. But all of this to say, middle schoolers are the PERFECT age. Just enough kid in them to listen to adults… just enough adult in them to understand what you are saying. They are at an age when they need people to be a positive influence on them… because they are EASILY influenced. It’s a make or break point for a lot of kids. They are sweethearts. They are children. They are perfect in their imperfections (cliche but so true). They are exactly how they should be — raging hormones, passionate about everything, dramatic, and more. But, hate to break it to you— you were the EXACT same way when you were their age. Bet you are glad people loved you despite those qualities. Time to return the favor.
4) They have hearts of gold. I have kids that, to state nicely, I would never want to be my own kids. But these kids also have incredible hearts. At my school there is a boy who is fighting leukemia. I have never seen a group of middle schoolers rally around a boy so much. Raising money for him. Making posters. Getting shirts made to wear to school on bone marrow transplant day. I teared up during morning duty when over 100 students got on the stage to take a picture to send to this boy. They were all wearing shirts for him, showing their support. What a sight to see. What a hope for our future. (side note: the boys transplant went wonderful… he is doing great and should be back in school in January. However, cool thing: he skypes into class. Technology can be a wonderful thing!)
5) Open minded. I am not one to talk about politics. I know where I stand, and I respect where you stand. That’s about as far as I get into politics. I don’t care who you like. I care that you are loved. I care that I am NOT the person that will make you think your life isn’t worth living. And as a middle school teacher, I can’t imagine anyone being mean to ANY of my kids. Even the ones who drive me crazy. But these kids are growing up in a different world. They definitely have opinions they have learned from their families (which I respect, I shaped the majority of my opinions from listening to my parents). But they don’t care half as much as we do about the choices others make. They are learning that no matter what, there is not a single excuse for being rude. It is unacceptable. It is not ok! Be nice, no matter what. Love people for who they are, pray for what you don’t agree with. Be there for their hard times. This is a good thing for our future REGARDLESS of your beliefs.
All in all, they need a lot of work. But that’s ok… because we are all a work in progress (just some more than others). They need a lot of direction and a whole lot of prayer. So why don’t you make sure to say a prayer for the future instead of talking bad about them. Say a prayer for each child to make good choices, but remember, sometimes they don’t have a lot of good things to choose from. Also, pray for the teachers. I know there are plenty of people out there who think we “babysit.” But I challenge those of you to a week in my job. I’m not saying I’m some hero. I am not by any means, but my job isn’t a joke. You wouldn’t be where you were without the teachers you had. And no matter what you do, don’t say rude things about middle schoolers. They are exactly the way they are meant to be. Their bodies have developed, but their brains have not, so give them a break. But most importantly: PRAY 🙂
I hope everyone enjoyed Chelsey’s encouraging words! If YOU have something to say, email me at email@example.com and maybe I will make you my next guest blogger. 🙂 Happy Wednesday!
And so it goes,