When I tell people that I am a middle school teacher, I often get the same reaction, “What? Are you crazy? Kids that age are nuts!” or “You couldn’t pay me enough money to do that!” I am sure those of you who teach in the 6th – 8th grade world hear similar comments. However, I absolutely love what I do and the kids that I work with daily. I could tell a hundred stories of the things I have heard, seen, and smelled…that most people outside of a school would not believe. Teachers have all sorts of techniques and strategies to get through difficult days and by satisfied with their work. For me, I rely on one simple rule: have a sense of humor.
Having a sense of humor applies to so many situations from dealing with a difficult student to grading. If you can’t laugh while you work, there is something wrong. Especially in the middle school, if you don’t laugh at least 7 times a day, you are probably in the wrong line of work.
In terms of connecting with your students, one of the easiest ways is to laugh at yourself. Be silly, out of the ordinary, funny and kids will connect with you. Below is a video that I made with a group of classmates back when I was in junior high. The quality is not great but the intent is good. I show this to my students before we study Rome. When kids see that I am ok laughing at myself, they connect with me and my class. They also feel free to step out of the box and take a risk themselves. This age is also a very fragile time for self esteem and being laughed at or singled out is hard. That is why it is even more important for me to model that and show them it’s ok and is often a lot of fun.
Enjoy laughing at me as my students certainly do! I am the one with the time period authentic looking executioner mask…yes that is a piece of sweatpants with holes and duck-tape!
Warning! - This movie is only attended for mature audiences that can handle poorly depicted violent acts with state of the art duck-tape and wooden weapons. No horses or junior high students were injured during the taping.