5 Mondays a week? Just enough!
Somehow my students a few years ago decided that what Mrs. Baker needed was a week of all Mondays, hence our current tradition: On Monday, we greet each other with “Happy First Monday”, on Tuesday, “Happy Second Monday”, ectera...on Fifth Monday, the 8th graders console me and assure me that we will all be together again soon, and remind me that weekends aren’t bad in any way. And that’s true- look at all the planning time there is in a weekend.
I draft lessons in the steam on my shower door in the mornings, maybe a funny vocab lesson, or a graphic organizer that moves those pesky percent problems onto the number line. During the weekends, my brain is always percolating up bits of lessons for the coming week. I do interpretive dances of the parent-graphs while walking the dog. I don’t get too excited about my birthday, or Christmas Eve, but some Sunday nights I am so ready for Monday morning I have a hard time sleeping.
Middle schoolers are my people. When I bounce out of bed and zoom to work I know there will be a room full of eye-rolls when I unleash my perky approach to Monday on their poor, sleepy heads. Despite our fundamental lack of common enthusiasm, they will be game for anything I throw out.
Ready to work before the bell? No problem.
Think-Pair-Share using all the right vocabulary? Yup.
Saying “I’m glad we cleared that up.” When they’re screaming “I told you so!” on the inside? They got that...mostly.
There are certainly kids with behaviors that push me to get my Gandhi on. Blurters, chatterers, girls who give the stink-eye to everyone, 6-footers with no impulse control...but even those kids respond with a little attention, praise for great work, and a firm hand. Those are often the most rewarding relationships, assuming we both survive each other.
What’s wonderful about adolescents is the quirky back-and-forth between childhood and adulthood. Mature one moment, and comparing favorite stuffed animals the next, they are always willing to go with me wherever I think the lesson needs to go. Wearing sticky-notes around the room to compare heights or saying “whee” and “grrr” in unison as we play a dice game are no problem, if its goofy, they’re in!
Someone once remarked that the only really great toy for a cattle dog is a 100-acre, working cattle ranch. That’s how I feel about my classroom, the best toy ever!