Changes

Diary of a Building Sub: Day 3

One of the cool things about subbing–particularly if you get to stay at one building–is that you get to know ALL the students instead of just one team or one grade. Today I subbed for a French teacher, covering her 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes. I was struck but just how much students change from one grade to another, and reminded how much they change over the course of a school year. It is quick amazing at this age level.

Sixth graders at the beginning of the year are little lost puppies. In my experience there are two kinds of start-of-the-year sixth graders: the frightened, nervous ones, and the ones who march to the beat of their own drum. I fully empathize with the former, and truly admire the latter. ALL of them, however, require so. much. management. They are little balls of questions and curiosity:

Where is the bathroom?

When can I go to the bathroom?

When is lunch?

When can I go to lunch?

How much longer until lunch?

How do I log into my Chromebook?

What is my password?

What is my email address?

What is the Google Classroom code?

Where is room number…?

How long is this class?

How do I get to my next class?

How do I do [insert about 50 different things]?

When can I go home?

The list goes on…

Sixth graders are generally well-meaning if clueless creatures. I like them, but they are exhausting in the way most elementary students are exhausting. They are NEEEDY.

Then there are the seventh graders. The seventh graders already know what’s going on (more or less), so going over the routine and the expectations is really just review for them. They are–generally speaking–eager to get started, to get to know you as the teacher, to reconnect with their peers, and to get on with the business of school. I can tell you right now that seventh graders at the beginning of the year are my absolute favorite students. Seventh graders, however, go through this slightly horrifying change about halfway through the school year. It is important to enjoy them early on so you can forgive their attitude later.

Eighth graders. Sigh. They are big and loud and focused on one thing: how to best impress their fellow eighth graders. Eighth graders early in the school year are what the seventh graders will become later on in the year, just bigger. They know everything and have reached that stage in life where all adults are either stupid or embarrassing. They are as exhausting as sixth graders but in a different way; they require CONSTANT management and they love to test you. Eighth graders want to know what they can get away with. For me, it is important to remember, that they–like the seventh graders–are going to go through a dramatic change halfway through the year, and I will like them much more then. In the meantime, it’s a balancing act between enforcing good behavior and forging relationships.

I think that’s enough for day 3, don’t you?



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