By Clare Hulsebosch – For this field experience, I have been placed in an eighth grade classroom. When I first read that, my initial reaction was negative. Why on earth would I want to go back to middle school?
I know that each age group has its benefits, but middle school just seemed exceptionally challenging. Girls are figuring out who they are, which can cause them to be dramatic and mean, and boys act childish. I was so nervous for my first day—but then I met the students.
Yes, they can be as trivial and dramatic as middle schoolers can be, but at the same time, these kids are hilarious and incredibly insightful. Unlike many of the kids in my own small, middle school class, these kids strive to do better. They are not content with the role society has assigned them as African-American youth, but rather they work hard to demolish that stereotype.
They also take little for granted. As a child, I never thought of the cost of food or clothing, but these students recognize that money does not just appear. They value hard work. Even if it can be hard to see their motivation sometimes, I know they strive to do better.
My favorite part of going to field experience might be when they ask me questions about college, studying, and different professions. They think outside the box of lawyer, doctor, athlete, teacher, businessperson, and parent. They see the future as wide open. One of my students actually applied to be a student ambassador and is now travelling to Whales, Scotland, Ireland, and England. She motivated herself to make that happen, and I’m so proud of her for it.
Rarely did I see that kind of self-motivation in my own schools—we all knew we were going to a good high school and most likely going to college, so we did not worry about how our grades would affect us in the future. I remember my parents doing everything in their power to help me see the point of certain work. These kids struggle with that, but they do it anyway.
Basically, being placed in a middle school classroom was the best possible thing that could have happened this semester. What I originally dreaded has benefitted me so much because I see how much volition students can have. Plus, I have learned so much from my cooperating teacher who sees the best in students and does not allow students to slack or make excuses.
I would never have guessed a group of 14-year-old kids could have taught me so much; but then again, that is the beauty of teaching.