Middle School. Remember it? Does it bring you pain, misery, or laughter? Do the memories resemble a Weird Al Yankovic song or more of a Barry Manilow melody? Regardless of the memories, I'm sure we can all agree on one term to describe Middle School, "Awkward!"
Why then, out of all the professions in the world, did I choose to be a middle school teacher? You would be assuming, of course, that I chose it, but you'd be wrong. No one chooses to be a middle school teacher, silly! It chose me!
2011 will begin my 17th year in the classroom. Back in 1995, I was living in South Carolina, but I applied in Hillsborough County, FL and was hired to teach 6th grade with my best friend, Dorothy. Ideally, Dorothy and I would teach by the beach and grade papers with our feet in the sand. Neither happened. Dorothy chickened out, I moved to FL by myself, and instead of getting a position by the beach, I was 45 minutes away from the coast and placed in Plant City, FL.
Plant City is a migrant community where strawberries are the bomb! Workers and their children arrive in October and leave late March. Originally, I'm from a small town in SC called Bamberg. I'm not sure I ever went to school with Hispanic people. We didn't even have a Spanish teacher until my senior year. Parle vous Francais?...and that's about all I can ask. The Hispanic culture was about as far from my thought process as the east is from the west.
I thought those Hispanic children were going to tie me up by my ankles and cuss me out in Spanish every day! Now, those of you that know the truth are laughing or smiling right now. Culture is a powerful thing! Their culture is sugar and spice and everything nice. They have a work ethic that makes American children look like couch potatoes.