This past week marked the beginning of a new role for me here at BFA. With the conclusion of cross-country season, it was time to start thinking about an additional way that I could invest my time here on campus. Well, as I soon discovered, at a school like BFA, as soon as you so much as hint that you may be looking for something else to do, it only takes a matter of minutes before a new job is found for you. For me, this new job came in the form of an email from the principal of the middle school. In her email, the principal asked if I would be interested in teaching a newspaper elective twice a week to 6-8 grade BFA students. Excited at the prospect of having more students and conscious of the fact that the class would end before the start of track season, I eagerly accepted the job.
Most of you who know me well, know that I like to be prepared and organized, especially when I am heading into a new job situation. Well, imagine how I felt the night before my first class knowing that I would be teaching a brand new group of students, but having no idea how many students I would have or in what grades they would be. I know from experience that planning for a class of 6th graders is totally different than planning for a class of 8th graders! So, even though I was stretched a bit out of my comfort zone, I did my best to craft a plan that would hopefully keep the attention of all age groups.
On the first day of class, I was pleased to find eleven eager and smiling faces waiting for me at the middle school computer lab. As I anticipated, I had a range of students in all three grades—four 6th graders, two 7th graders, and five 8th graders. So yes, quite diverse in ages, but overall a great mix of students to head the school paper.
So how was my first day? Let’s just say that coming from teaching a class of mature and articulate high school juniors and seniors to the energy and exuberance of the middle school brings new meaning to the phrase “culture shock.” Thankfully, I do have past experience teaching middle schoolers or else I’m not sure that I would have been ready for the middle world mayhem. And by “mayhem” I don’t necessarily mean uncontrollable chaos, I mean more along the lines of extreme energy. Seriously, I’m not sure if I’ve ever met a group so excited to learn, so excited about life, or so excited to participate in absolutely every aspect of the class.
“Who would like to read the first paragraph?”—eleven hands instantly explode into the air. “Would someone please…”—I have six volunteers before I have even finished the sentence. “Do we have any ideas for the layout of the paper?”—there are more ideas than I can write on the board. “Let’s all stand up like real news reporters when we do our presentations, okay?”—the students are not only standing, but are holding up their pencils like pretend microphones, are speaking in impressively accurate foreign accents (gotta love TCKs), and are doing their best to add as much emphasis as possible to every one of their sentences.
Though it was crazy and action-packed, my first day left me with no doubt that teaching middle school newspaper is going to be a tremendously fun adventure! Check back later for more updates. :)