Last night, I interviewed my little brother for a project I’m working on for my Middle School Learners class. The fact that I got a 14 year old boy to happily talk to me about his experiences in middle school is probably a testament to what a great kid he is. I asked him to choose a pseudonym for me to use in my paper, he chose Lance Jones, the names he gave to his tuba and saxophone. I really enjoyed learning more about what those years of his life were like and it made me want to learn more about the experiences of other kids. I went to a tiny private school from 1st-8th grade, so traditional middle school experiences seem a little foreign to me.
There were a few things that stood out to me during the interview. When I asked him about teachers, he told me he knew that teachers cared about him when they took the curriculum further, brought in extra activities and made it fun. I asked him if he felt like any of his teachers didn’t care about him and he told me that he felt like a few teachers were just there for the paycheck (he mentioned these teachers just chatting with each other or showing videos all the time). For the most part he held his teachers in high regard. He told me about a time when he felt like he was being bullied (verbally) and a teacher stepped in and talked to the other child. He said the teacher did the exact right thing for the situation.
One of the things that kept coming up was how he felt frustrated with kids who didn’t care about school and how in every class there were kids who were “goof-offs”. I asked him why he thought these kids didn’t care about school and he thought that maybe they had a bad experience in elementary school that “set them up terrible for their whole education”. He thought a possible solution for those kids would be if a teacher noticed they were struggling and stepped in to try to make school fun for them.
At the end of our conversation, I asked him if he had any general thoughts that had come up. Here is what he said: “Middle School is a time when you decide if you want to stay a seed, or if you want to start to germinate, put roots down and grow.”