In my former Mississippi life, I was a middle school drama teacher. Let’s face it. No one likes middle school (including a lot of the teachers). The boys are tiny pipsqueaks whose demeanor reminds me of a particularly hyper chihuahua, and the girls are dealing with changing bodies which somehow gets them in touch with inner mean girl. They are all crazy. I guess it’s the hormones. Their body chemistry creates a reaction in their brain which causes them to act like alien creatures unbeknownst to human kind for a period lasting 2-4 years.
During the first few months of teaching, I was having terrible flashbacks to my middle school years like some sort of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had successfully blocked out the memories of preteen anguish for 10 years, and suddenly I was faced with reminders of my own painful experiences day in and day out.
But, as with most things, I got used to it. And don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate my students (even when you ready to pull your hair out, there’s a certain amount of love for those aliens). But there was an adjustment period.
In my new Chicago life, I have a job teaching drama at an Elementary School. That’s kindergarten through 5th grade! News Flash: WAY different than my middle schoolers. We have entered a brand new adjustment period. But let’s face it, these kids are way cuter than all of your hormonal, alien 12 year olds combined.
And because it’s truly one of my favorite activities, I’ve made a list:
Why Being in Kindergarten is Way Better than Middle School (or High School)
1. Recess! Come on. Recess is awesome. And now, kids have recess plus P.E. every day. That’s a lot of running-around-awesomeness. Middle-schoolers should definitely have recess.
2. Line Leaders. You remember. About once a month, your name makes it to the top of the chart and you are line leader for a day which makes that day just about the best day ever. Every time you leave the classroom who’s at the front of the line? You!! Walking to music – BAM – front of the line. Walking to lunch – BAM – front of the line, and so on and so forth all day long. The only downside is the end of the day when you must relinquish your title and return to being shuffled in amongst the commoners in the middle of the line. In middle schools, walking down the halls between classes usually looks like the running of the bulls in Pamplona. No leaders, no followers, just every man for himself.
3. Naps. Ok, I don’t actually know if the kindergarteners at my current school get naps. But I know I had them when I was young and they were awesome! (Except for the day when my denim jumper wouldn’t stay down and some little twerp saw my underwear and laughed at me. I refused to wear dresses for the next three years, approximately.) Think about how a little power nap would put everyone in a better mood, especially the teachers.
4. Totally acceptable crying. 5 and 6 year olds cry. Some of them cry a lot. I recently had a boy who was sobbing the last five minutes of class. When I asked what was wrong, he told me he just wanted to go home. And I accepted this as completely reasonable, and we moved on. His classmates barely noticed. If he was in middle school and making that kind of scene, he would be shunned or at least teased mercilessly for the next few days until you were forgotten because the pack has moved on to prey on new exposed vulnerability.
5. Cuteness. Let’s face it, cuteness is the ultimate trump card. It can help you get away with most anything. You can be running laps in your auditorium while your drama teacher is almost ready to tear her own hair out, but one cute smile, look, or adorable phrase and your teacher will almost forget your earlier transgression. Some middle schoolers are able to hold on to skill of squirming out of any real trouble, but I would call that charm. Kindergarten definitely has the monopoly on cuteness. How can you not forgive a little 5-year-old who’s hugging your leg and telling drama is their favorite class?
For now, these adorable yet completely exhausting kids are my students. Change is good, right? I’ll keep adjusting to the new job while making notes of all the especially cute stories. And seriously, if you know any teachers, you should buy them a really nice Christmas present. They work hard!