Yesterday morning, I had the privilege of delving into the mind of a seventh grader. I had what I thought was going to be a six hour road trip with my thirteen year old son. It turned into an eight hour trip. I learned a lot about middle school students and had fun.
We started with music–everything from 80’s music, nightcore, Sabatan, theme music to Sword Art Online and Castle in the Sky, to the 1967 musical movie Oliver Twist. Talk about eclectic! The kid sings along with all of them. He started out with the headphones in one ear, but soon unplugged them and let me listen in. From there, we discussed all kinds of things. I informed him that Anastasia was a real story–not the way that Disney portrayed it, but I gave him the facts and my memories of people claiming to be her in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. We shared childhood memories–both his and mine. We covered a zillion topics. He informed me that even though he may travel in the future, he will always want a home in our home town. He regaled me with verbatim comedian acts from Jeff Foxworthy and Gabriel Iglesias. Overall it was a wonderful time.
What did I learn about middle school students? I was taught that they have eclectic interests. They are curious and want to learn, but not necessarily what a teacher would want them to learn. They have hopes and dreams, and can stretch beyond what adults often think they can do. Why don’t we let them dream and soar? Why do we tie them down to our world of issues? Why not give them the tools to enable them to succeed in our world when the time comes? As a teacher, author, and mom to middle school students, my job is to empower them to live their dreams. To help them look beyond the black issues of their everyday life and see the rainbow at the end of the day. To see the silver lining on the clouds. This is why I teach. This is why I write, and this is why I’m a mom.