A visit from the Middle School Mafia

Thursdays are usually my “screen day” of work, which means hours preparing lessons, answering emails and commenting on students’ submissions. Every 25 minutes, I must look into the distance to give my eyes a break. 

The week before last, I looked up and saw two boys warily approaching La Casa de Tontería; a third waited on the road. They were heading back home after an afternoon in the State Park, an unaltered section of which lies beyond the dead-end of my street. They saw my house and wondered…

Yes, I welcomed them! It was good to see them “in the wild,” so to speak. One admitted to staying up all night – and it showed in the darkness around his eyes. Another was sent outdoors to give the rest of the family a break. The last is the quiet type with brains, which could go either way.

But they aren’t thieves or druggies. And they weren’t on the prowl for victims, just checking up on a neighbor-teacher. 

It reminded me why I like kids.

7 thoughts on “A visit from the Middle School Mafia

  1. To a fellow teacher: I thank you for following my blog, and I will reciprocate with pleasure and interest.
    P.S. From my experience running a school, Middle School age is the toughest; I applaud you.

    • Thank you! This was my third year teaching this level. Last year’s class were some of the nicest young people I’ve ever had – so kind to each other and they were more mischievious than malicious. It was the calm before this year’s storm. And next year, by all indications! Ha ha.

          • Well, I rather hope we were. The number of fights went through the roof this past year.

            One of the worst things was that I had a few conferences and finding a sub was difficult. We have an online substitute teacher bank. The subs don’t know what class they’ve gotten until they accept, so I’d have a string of emails saying, “Your request has been filled by XX,” “Your request has reopened,” “Your request has been filled by YY,” “Your request has reopened,” etc.

            My absolute worst day was when I was at a conference. The principal sent me an email about his concern that I was writing too many disciplinary referrals for boys from a particular class. They needed a time-out instead. I was annoyed by the inference of me picking on the boys for boy-like behavior.

            As soon as the conference was over, I made sure to catch him before he left. He was very understanding, almost a complete reversal of position. I thought I had explained my process very well.

            Then I went to my classroom and read the sub’s report/resignation letter. And the emails from our disciplinary officer. And the support staff….

            I hadn’t convinced my principal; circumstances had already changed his mind.

            It seems that the day started with one of my misunderstood boys getting into desk-flipping fisticuffs with another. And it went downhill from there. I called and emailed more than 20 parents before I left!

            (Although, in recounting that, I suddenly feel positively CHEERY about the shutdown. Ha ha!)

          • I was a tomboy troublemaker, and I am (was) a girl! Not fights in the classroom; that was outside. Just pranks.
            You teach public school, I take it, right?
            I’ve observed and supervised student teachers enough to know exactly what you are talking about.
            Again, I wish you strength!

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