When I got my teaching certificate, my husband told me I could work at any level of education that I wanted - except for junior high. He said I would hate it and it was a terrible age to teach. Go figure that just a few weeks after he uttered those words, Brownsboro Junior High called. They needed a teacher desperately. A teacher was quitting unexpectedly in the middle of the year.
So, for over three years now, I have taught junior high. I am not going to lie and say that I have loved every moment. I am not going to deny trying to move to other levels of education. But after the following conversation that I recently had with my husband, I have come to the realization that I actually love teaching junior high:
Seth: I was thinking that in another couple years, you should go back to school to be a nurse.
Mary: Why would I want to do that?
Mary: Why would I want to do that?
Seth: You would make alot more money. You aren't going to teach junior high forever anyway, right?
Mary: Why not? I like my job! I teach a subject that I love. I really like and care about my students. I love the people I work with. I have lots of time with my own children during holidays and the summer. Why on earth would I want to do anything else? If you wanted to be married to a nurse, you should've married one! If you want to make more money, then YOU go get a new job!
I was surprised by my own response. (and so was Seth, because I know he didn't expect me to attack him like that!) But I didn't realize how much I actually liked my job until Seth put it down.
Teaching junior high is not for everyone. The students do not adore you. They actually believe that you are the stupidest person they have ever met. (besides their own parents, of course!)
If you have ever heard that junior high students are "hormones, with arms and legs," this is a fairly accurate description. For instance, I learned the hard way that I couldn't say the following things:
Mrs. Scott: "Ok, let's do these questions orally."
Joseph: "Mrs. Scott likes to do it orally!"
Mrs. Scott: "Now where do you get off acting like this?"
Trevor: "Well, I don't know about you guys, but I usually get off in my bathroom!"
Or this one I heard from a Reading teacher.
Teacher (interrupted by misbehavior while reading a story aloud to the class): "Quiet down, everybody, I am getting to the climax now!"
I think you can imagine the response she got.
It's all about being cool and impressing your friends in junior high. So, if that means writing on the wall, they do it. If that means cussing, they do it. If that means saying something inappropriate to a teacher just to see her reaction...you get the idea! If you just step into a junior high school for a day, you might think they are disrespectful, dishonest....just despicable little people! They might actually make you question the entire upcoming generation! But....
I love these kids. You have to know how to handle a class of 25 little hormones and it can definitely be a challenge, but on an individual basis, they are still just little kids. They are trying so hard to be all grown up, but they still have a long way to go.
What I love most about junior high kids is that they are still mold-able. Unfortunately, most of my students are already making decisions about alcohol, drugs and sex. But they haven't committed to a lifestyle yet. I believe that every one of my students can change. They are still deciding who they are going to be, and if I can help to push them in a positive direction, that just makes all of the other challenges of a day's work at BJH seem a little less challenging.