For 14 years in an earlier season before homeschooling my own daughter, I had the privilege to teach middle school students in public schools. Now some would say they could NEVER teach middle school, but I LOVED it. There was absolutely never a dull moment!
Many days, the first part of a class period was spent just getting the girls ready to be teachable . . . one 7th grader would walk into the room crying, and then, as though they were contagious, the tears spread 360 degrees throughout the room until a large percentage of the girls were tearful (sometimes purely sympathetic tears) or joining in with a full-fledged cry-fest.
Investing a few minutes at the beginning of the class period, distributing encouraging words, diffusing conflict, or just acknowledging that what the girls were feeling or experiencing, created an atmosphere where they were finally ready for instruction in Social Studies or English.
Launching into a lesson without handling matters of the heart first would have been unfruitful time spent at best. The guys in the class didn’t mind hanging out with friends for a few minutes while the girls spent the same amount of time venting, ranting and gaining control of random sobbing. We were usually ready to roll with the lesson within 5 – 10 minutes, time well spent, though the tearful topics de jour were not a part of the standard middle school curriculum.
For many of the girls, 7th grade was the peak of the “angst,” but for some the “tearful season” started as early as 5th grade and peaking in sixth grade. Interestingly enough, usually before the end of spring semester, the eighth graders would begin to stabilize, resulting in far less crying in class and way more time on task for teaching.
There’s SO much going on in our girls between the ages of 11 and 13-ish. One minute they want to be treated like the adults they are becoming, while the next minute they are behaving like toddlers. One day they are elementary school children, and the next, their bodies have begun transforming into the young women they will be. And with both situations arising sometimes simultaneously, the terrific, yet tumultuous tween and early teen years, are a beautiful time of self-discovery as they transition from children to young ladies.
And we, as their teachers, their mothers, their mentors, get to transition right along with them as we meet them right where they are, minute by ever-changing minute, day by ever-changing day, in this seemingly endless journey, which later will be remembered as a blink of the eye.
Treasure every blink, every moment!