Well, thanks to the typhoid outbreak, I’ve been promoted. I’m a middle school English teacher now. My housemate, Jamie, is the real teacher but she’s one of many down for the count. The school is getting desperate and having a really difficult time covering classes. It’s one of those things you don’t immediately think about when signing on to work at a boarding school in the middle of nowhere—you can’t just call in substitute teachers from the next district when someone gets sick. The teachers you have are the substitutes you've got. The healthy teachers are handling extra classes and non-teachers are being pressed into service whenever it seems like it might work. So I’m covering Jamie’s classes until she’s well again.
And, wonder of wonders, I love it! I’ve only had a couple classes so far but I can feel myself getting excited. There is something really magic about teaching middle school. On the one hand, the kids can be pretty rowdy and are prone to giggle at everything but the payoff is that their minds are so open. They’re still at that point where what you tell them is new and exciting and you are in the position to light their enthusiasm and help them love the subject you’re teaching.
The 7th and 8th graders are both studying Shakespeare (which in itself is pretty cool—we didn’t touch Shakespeare till high school at my school). A Midsummer Night’s Dream for grade seven and Romeo and Juliet in eight. I’m familiar with R&J but had never read Dream and so raced through it yesterday. Good play. I highly recommend it. Then today I found myself spending my free periods pouring over teaching guides in search of insight into how to present the topics and looking for fun activities. I really want to be more than a warm body babysitting the kids until their teacher gets well. I’m not at all qualified to teach, but English is something I’m good at and I hope I can bring something to the classes.
Right now the kids are being good for me and I really hope it lasts. Middle schoolers are, by nature, an alarmingly energetic bunch and keeping their attention for 80 minutes will be a challenge. Plus they’re prone to silliness. And immaturity (which I realize goes with the age). So it was really no surprise to discover that the character “Puck,” when his name was written on the board, quickly gained a new initial letter when my back was turned. Giggles all around. Sigh. Wish me luck!