Wisdom and Wisecracks From my Middle School Students

redheels_bike2By Sabrina Bong — Ever since I started at the middle school, I have been accumulating stories about my kids.

Some are serious, but a good majority of them are funny. I think my favorite one is where my elementary students thought I fell off my bicycle because I was wearing high heels while riding on it! (And for the record, I was not wearing heels; I am just naturally klutzy!)

This year, I am teaching a class for seventh grade students. To start the class, I asked the students to write a “bucket list,” which is a list of things you want to accomplish before you die. Some of the lists were rather entertaining!

After reading through all 29 responses, I compiled a list of the top 10 things my students wrote.  Here are some of the most popular things on their buckets lists (in order!)

  1. Ride an ostrich (Really? An ostrich? And out of 29 students, 15 of them want to ride an ostrich.)
  2. Let go of a floating lantern
  3. Get married
  4. Have kids
  5. Move to California (or another state, but California was mentioned several times.)
  6. Go to college (some students even mentioned specific schools!)
  7. Become a professional athlete
  8. Drive/ride in a fancy car
  9. Get a job
  10. Go skydiving

I asked them the next day to write a piece of advice that they would give a new student at the school. Some of the responses include:

“Don’t just be a star, be a shooting star! Chase your dreams and wish for the best.”

“Don’t date until you are mentally mature enough to date.”

“Be yourself. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. Just do what you want, wear what you want, and don’t listen to what other people think of you.”

“Always try again. When you fail, it’s actually your first attempt at learning.”

“Stay out of the drama. Do it. It will make life better.”

“Get to class on time all the time. Otherwise your teachers get really mad.”

“Don’t laugh when you’re on your iPad, because then your teachers know you aren’t actually doing your work.”

“Don’t get your teacher mad, especially if she’s about to have a baby.”

“Everyone has gone through being a new student at one time or another. Everything will turn out fine.”

I wanted to share these responses for many reasons. The first is that some of them are pretty amusing, and we all need to just laugh once in a while! I know I was giggling quite a bit when I saw that many of my students wanted to ride an ostrich. Apparently, some of them began Googling how to ride an ostrich and found out that there are places where you can actually race while riding an ostrich …

I also wanted to share these responses because while many of them are amusing, some are very deep. As I was reading all of the advice that they would give a new student, I was touched by their responses. Many of the people who mentioned drama were heavily involved in drama last year. It’s as if they are drawing from their personal experiences and rethinking their past decisions. It’s also eerie to see pieces of my own advice crop up in their responses (I can’t tell you how often I tell my middle school students not to date!)

I’ve learned a lot from my kids, just from their responses. I’ve learned that even though my 12 and 13 year old students are still kids, they have also seen quite a bit in life.

Great job, students! I’m so proud of you.

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