Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What If We Switched

playgroundIn Glad that week is over! from Running From Cupcakes,  CurlyJ says,

“Yesterday we also had to do an elementary/secondary switch, so those in elementary schools had to spend the day in a high school, and vice versa.”

This reminded me of the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

I’ve been lucky enough to teach on all grade levels from elementary to university. I can honestly say that all levels have their own difficulties and their own joys. I have also taught special ed classes and some general ed classes and the same goes for that. Here are the things that I remember from all of these experiences.

When I taught on the elementary school level, I remember the hugs and the joy when the students saw me as they arrived. I remember the happiness over the small things in life. I remember the pride they had at pleasing others. I remember being part of a faculty that was small and felt like a family. I remember how taking away recess or sitting students in the corner would be all that was necessary to teach appropriate behavior. I also remember wiping noses, and not making it to the bathroom. I remember the “tattletales” and the name calling. I remember hurt feelings that seemed like it was the end of the world. I remember faculty squabbles because we were so small and were like a family.

On the middle school level, I remember students wanting to be young adults but still being treated like children. I remember some of them not understanding their own feelings and lashing out at anyone who is near. It seemed like everything might offend them and cause them to go berserk. Their hormones were causing them to go crazy! I also remember seeing these students learn how to control their own feelings and behaviors and the amazement on their faces when they succeeded. It seemed like a simple phone call home or a meeting with parents would encourage the students to act appropriately. I remember how the faculty supported each other during these turbulent times so that we could all be supportive of these students.

On the high school level, I remember how important it was to teach the students skills that they would use later on in life. These skills would be important for their financial and emotional independence. For these students, the light at the end of the tunnel was not that far away. Yet emotions were much closer to the surface and hurt feelings could cause major eruptions. At this age, sexuality was also a major factor in their lives and it scared me at the growing number of teenage pregnancies. The faculty was much larger and issues were quite different than those at the other levels. In fact, this large faculty was a society of its own. Yet, I was able to work with a variety of different teachers who taught different subjects. I was able to adapt many of their effective lessons into my own classroom. The sense of collaboration was much easier at this level than at others.

All of the levels had their own difficulties and also their own goodness. I am glad that there are teachers at each level that feel they have found their own niche. I suggest that if you haven’t found your niche yet, it is important to find it. The ones that have found it are the ones who are most effective with their own age group.

What level do you teach and why do you love it? Please share!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Portal'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/37585370@N00/61376762 by: Brian Utesch

4 comments:

Sam Rangel said...

What a great summary of what to expect at each level of education. I've only taught middle school - going on 23 years now. When I first started, I was too young-looking to teach high school, not touchy-feely enough for elementary, so I became a middle school teacher. I've found that the biggest challenge that these kids have is identity. They still don't know who they are, and that's where I can offer a little direction. I know I belong here. This is my niche. That's probably why I enjoy my job so much. Good tip for new teachers - Find your niche. Thanks!
Sam

Acacia Dixon said...

Great post! I loved teaching middle school. In 6th grade they still had the elementary school devotion to teachers, in 7th grade their hormones raged out of control and they were just crazy (but the kind I like) and in 8th grade they became the big fish in the little pond. I will always think middle school offers the best of all worlds if you have that special kind of patience.

Nancy Teaches said...

I too have taught all grades. I've taught everything from four year olds through the college level. The only time I was unhappy was when I became an administrator. Once I returned to the classroom, I was happy again. My favorite age - any! My least favorite - the grownups:)Thanks for reminding me how much I love working with kids. My fourth graders are delightful, inquisitive and still in love with learning.

Nancy Teaches said...

I too have taught all grades. I've taught everything from four year olds through the college level. The only time I was unhappy was when I became an administrator. Once I returned to the classroom, I was happy again. My favorite age - any! My least favorite - the grownups:)Thanks for reminding me how much I love working with kids. My fourth graders are delightful, inquisitive and still in love with learning.