Normally, my posts are about family, including my amazing daughter, and things that happen, whether cute or mystical. But, today is different. I’m a little ticked.
I was listening to one of my favorite radio stations the other day (yes I prefer radio for variety, it is free and I do not have to download anything). Anyway, a lady who is supposed to be the foremost authority or something in regards to teens in middle school was talking.
Unless I missed something, she gave advice to middle school students to not worry about middle school, and her advice to parents was to not worry about middle school. The grades don’t transfer to high school so parents should use the time to learn to cope with and understand their child.
That really struck a sour note with me – I’m a middle school teacher.
Middle school is not play-time nor are teachers glorified baby-sitters. This is where we teach the basics for high school performance.
Middle school is where we try to teach our (your) kids a good work ethic. We give homework so they can practice the things we learn in class. We try to teach them that cheating is wrong and that they should learn to think independently. We try to get the students to set goals and determine a path of study so they can be successful. We also give tests so we can evaluate if your child is learning. We also offer assistance if they are not.
We know that the habits that your child develops in middle school are the habits they will take with them to high school. If they do not do homework in middle school, then why would they decide to do it in high school? If a child spends time in trouble in middle school, it will go with them to high school. They develop a poor work ethic and they carry that into the work force.
In the small town where I live, the local court docket is published every Tuesday. I often glance through to see if any of my past students are becoming famous in their own rights. In the past several years very few weeks have gone by where I don’t see 3-4 names of past problem students. Things could have been different if they and their parents had viewed middle school or just school differently.
Another thing that bothered me about her words of wisdom was the fact that schools and teachers are evaluated on how well students take the end-of-grade tests. This type of thinking kicks the feet out from under some very great teachers. If students don’t show growth it effects the teacher’s evaluations and the grades that the state now gives schools for performance.
Teaching is not just a job, it is a profession. As professionals we love our work. We have to since the pay is not what it should be. You may have one 12 or 13 year-old. Daily, we have one hundred to one hundred and ten. You don’t teach middle school because it’s fun. We are called to do a special job. Yes, school only goes for ten months, but we only get paid for ten months unless we have our pay spread out over twelve months. We don’t have 6 hour days. Counting the work we take home we often work ten to twelve hour days. Oh, and we don’t get overtime pay.
Do us a favor. Pay close attention to your children in middle school. These are some of the most important years of your child’s life. And they need your guidance in order to be successful.
By the way, have a great day.
*** John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.