“Oh you’re a teacher, what grade do you teach?”
“I teach middle school–English Language Arts and Reading.”
The “look” that usually follows this polite exchange resembles something quite Scarlet O’Hara in the “bless your heart” style.
Well in my fifth year of teaching the odd, really confusing wildebeest we call “preteens” I have come to learn eight (online appropriate) things that are 100% true to this career path.
1. We have smelled things that you can only imagine in your wildest dreams.
Bet you didn’t wake up before leaving for work this morning thinking, “I really hope Johnny in the office next door put on his deodorant.” Teachers have, though. We also get really stoked when we get the smelliest of the kids right after PE. Before my kids ever hit their smelly peak I plan to buy stock in deodorant and body sprays. What’s even worse than the odoriferous smell of preteen is when it is covered in the hottest scent of Victoria’s Secret Love Spell mixed with some lingering Axe and unchanged sanitary pad.
Yep. That’s a thing.
2. Literally everything we say is a big old sex joke.
Literally. Anything. We. Say.
“That’s what she said.”
*Snickers across the classroom*
Don’t even start on when you’re reading aloud and get to the word, “cocky.”
Or you try to teach assonance.
“This story is on page 69.” Just say the page after 68, or 70 adjacent.
Teaching middle school isn’t unlike teaching a class in gun safety. You have to be alert at all times.
3. Everyone gets braces, then gets them removed.
“Hey Mrs. Leonard, do you notice anything different about me?”
4. Figuring out who has crushes on who is the absolute highlight of your day.
Then getting really annoyed at yourself for wanting your favorite kids to grow up and get married and make more perfect students.
5. The constant humor of puberty hitting a kid like a ton of bricks never gets old.
One day little Johnny has a meek voice. After Christmas vacation Johnny sounds like he could carry bass notes. Boys and girls start noticing each other and it’s totally gross. All the acne. All the bad hair choices. All the axe body spray. All the misplaced cat eyeliner. All the things happen in middle school.
6. All. The. Drama. All. The. Snapchats.
“I didn’t do my homework because Suzy was making fun of me on Snapchat.”
“I need to switch seats because Tom told me I smell like buttcheese, and that really isn’t true and I’m going to punch him if I have to sit by him for another minute.”
Abby’s mom wants Craig moved away from anyone who has parents that voted for Trump. Parker needs moved into Honors because the kids in the regular class are too distracting, and that must be why he got in trouble for saying “asshole” because he surely doesn’t hear it at home.
7. Parents literally not knowing how to help you help their kid is a common thing.
We often find ourselves frustrated when we call home and ask what a parent can do to help us get through to their child. But, the truth is…their kids are being so weird and atypical most of them genuinely do NOT know. Poor little Carol was an “A” student until all hormonal hell broke loose and now she won’t even stay civil with her mom long enough to slam the door in her face. Kids, man.
(Mine is going to live with her grandparents from age 12-15. Possibly longer depending on her moodiness.)
8. The free entertainment never gets old.
Some days I think to myself, “I just got paid to talk to kids about a book that they loved. What a life.” while other days I think to myself. “I’m officially writing a book about that one day. Lord give me strength.” I also frequently think about my friends that work in office jobs and compare what I did that day to theirs. 10/10 times I am the very clear winner. For example today I was able to give a child the education of his lifetime. That Marshall will NEVER be THE West Virginia football team, and he should really invest in some Blue and Gold. Then HE decided to tell me that we “Chokied with the Hokies” and I realized I’ve for sure found my truest calling in life.
Seriously middle school teachers, go hit up your local happy hour. We deserve it.