At some point, anyone who teaches middle school has been asked the question, “You teach middle school??? Are you insane???” Typically the response is shluff it off with a chuckle and some comment acknowledging that middle schoolers are a bizarre group.
What gets lost though is the reality. Despite raging hormones, moments of absolute stupidity, and the struggle to figure out who they are, middle schoolers are perhaps the best people in the world. Literally. The best people in the world.
I say this not for dramatic effect, but because I truly believe it. These kids want to make a difference. They have the ideals that many of their parents lost. They know that given the chance, they can do something amazing for the world.
I saw it with my students last year and thought that it was just a special group. That group was special, but no more than any other one. The difference for them, was my willingness to take a risk on them. We talked water issues, they acted. They raised over $4000 to help a school in Kenya build sanitary latrines, a hand-washing station, and a clean drinking water source for their students.
My group this year has vowed not to be outdone. They are attempting to raise $10,000 to help schools in India, South Sudan, and the Dominican Republic.
I believe in them. I know they will make it because I’ve watched them this week do so amazing things. Students going door to door to talk to neighbors about the issue and collect money. Students designing posters and t-shirts to promote the cause. They have come up with amazing ideas to raise money – some traditional ones like bake sales, and others that are not so traditional (have you ever seen teachers duct taped to walls?).
What is the most amazing is how they are working together. The video gamers, who rarely socialize with anyone, are planning a tournament together. The students who give an apathetic look most days get unbelievably excited when planning Human Hungry Hippos games (again, it is a real thing and quite hilarious). It’s great to see all of their collaboration, but the best one, the one that nearly brought me to tears, was watching a girl who has been truly anti-social this year, writing a jingle for our campaign, singing it acappella, and then recruiting girls who I don’t think she’s ever talked to sing it with her. It was amazing.
That’s why I teach middle schoolers.
Little kids aren’t independent enough to do this.
High schoolers are often to wrapped up in their own lives to do this.
Middle schoolers do this because they are awesome. They aren’t the punks that people are horrified by at the mall. They aren’t the zombies glued to their phones like so many people think they are. They are THE BEST.