Rebecca Mieliwocki hit the nail on the head. This is exactly why I love working in the Middle School. It takes a special kind of person to not only want to work with this population but to really love the work; and The Athenian Middle School is full of them. –Jessica Donovan, Head of Middle School
This article in the Marshall Memo (for those of you interested in writings on education, it is a must) reminded me why I am so glad we have a middle school and so awed by the teachers who work with our kids. Not only do they understand middle-schoolers, they want nothing more than to spend their days educating them. It is a labor of love. Thanks, as always, for sharing your children with us. –Eric Niles, Head of School
Teaching Middle School English
Excerpts from: “Focus: Teaching Middle-School English” by Rebecca Mieliwocki in Go Teach, March/April 2013 (Vol. 2, #4, p.12), http://www.futureeducators.org/goteach/2013/03/15/focus-teaching-middle-school-/ english.
“It took me about 11 minutes to fall utterly, completely in love with 7th graders,” says 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki in this article in Go Teach. “I’ve finally found my place, the place where a teacher’s personality and energy is wonderfully matched to her audience.” This affair of the heart was an accident. When Mieliwocki returned from maternity leave, her high-school English classroom was unavailable and she was forced to travel to the “hostile, alien planet known as middle school.”
Why did she take so passionately to seventh graders? “Middle schoolers are vibrant, throbbing masses of insecurity, hyperactivity, creativity, indecision, certitude, compassion, and silliness,” she says. “Or, they try to render themselves into faceless, apathetic puddles of ‘Don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, go away, leave me alone, you don’t understand, what do you know?’ All of them scream, ‘Come closer, understand me, find my potential, see me, love me.’ For the teacher who takes the time to make that journey to meet them, sometimes a bit past halfway, there is treasure.”
“I’m a 12-year-old dork who can still marvel at the wonder of our world, question the possibilities before us, and embark on crazy adventures with my 150 sidekicks,” Mieliwocki continues. “To survive as a middle-school teacher, you have to believe that wonderful potential lies within these not-quite-kids, not-quite-adults. They tune out, they act up, they crackle with energy and creativity, they break down, they lash out. They try on a new personality every day, and they want you to approve of all of them. You have to work harder than other teachers to swat aside their attempts to alienate you, to test you, to see how far they can go before you blow… Teaching middle school is the ride of a lifetime.”