Friday, May 31, 2019

What it is to start Middle School

In May I was fortunate to spend the day with Ms. Strohman’s seventh graders at Marsteller Middle School. I was there to facilitate their discussion of the Giver by Lois Lowry. I am currently thinking about writing a book about the first week of middle school so instead of 'thank yous' I asked them if they would share with me some of the good and bad experiences from starting middle school the previous year. I received almost a hundred shares from them.

According to these students about one-third of older siblings are nice and tell you the truth about what to expect in middle school. The other two-thirds tell you about the mean teachers and all the homework and that even if you can remember your locker combinations it will usually jam on you anyway. None of this ended up being true.

The three biggest fears about starting middle school seem to be the locker, changing classes, and making it to class on time. I picture opening the book with a musical dream scene where our hero and heroine have lockers on either side of the hall from each other, they have not yet met, and neither can open their locker.

The rest of the students sing “Lock, Unlock. Lock, Unlock. Lock, Unlock. Lock, Unlock. Lock, Unlock. Lock, Unlock.” While opening and closing their lockers.  Interspersed in the song are singers calling out multiple locker combinations. And because it’s a dream sequence, students can dance into lockers and then come out another locker further down the hall. “Stack your books, check your books, get your books.” Finally, the hall clears. Our hero and heroine are still standing in front of their unopened lockers, but they see each other and smile. We know it’s going to be love.

One boy reported that he got written up several times a day for being late to class and was given notices he was supposed to sign and return to the teacher. When she didn’t ask for them back, he threw them away. Another boy who thought the whole idea of changing clothes for gym was disgusting accidently put his pants in another boy’s locker and closed it. He had to ask around to find out who now ‘owned’ his pants. Another boy reported that on the first day of school there was no bus assigned to his neighborhood so he was a half hour late.

There was also a fear of not knowing anyone. This came strongly of course from people who had just moved to town but also from kids whose elementary school friends went to a different middle school. I think they should invent speed friending so those who wanted to, could meet a bunch a people and maybe find a friend.

My thanks to all the kids who shared.

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