Tag Archives: young adult lit
“But people forgive each other. It’s like a dance.”
“I wish I knew how to do that dance,” Adri said.
“Oh,” Lily shook her head. “I don’t think it’s that you can’t do it. I think you’re thinking the whole thing is a lose-lose. Like, what if someone actually likes you? That causes all sorts of problems. Then each time you see them, you have to try and keep them. And then even if you manage that, you lose. You end up losing. Even if you go through all the work of accepting someone and occasionally looking like a fool in front of them and then figuring out if they can accept you and you can forgive each other for everything you screw up, you lose them eventually.”
Let’s face it, middle school is hard. Not necessarily academically—although for some kids that is true. But it’s hard because of the place it is: the middle. Students aren’t little kids even though things like recess and stickers and “potty humor” still tickle them. They aren’t true teenagers focused on college and careers. They are literally stuck in the middle. Socially, they’re trying to figure out who to be. Physically, I might have a 6’4” boy sitting next to a 4’9” boy. Some of my girls may look like they’re nine and others 19. Middle school is hard for my students. When I tell most adults what I do, they take a step back and say how awful middle school is, usually because they’re reflecting on their time in that space.
This week I’ve dedicated my posts to series – why I’m burned out on them and why my students can’t get enough.
I might need to revise my post from Tuesday, April 24. I’m not burned out on series. I repeat – the series lives!
As a middle school teacher, I reserve the right to change my mind. I’ve changed my mind. Looking for the May Schmidt’s Pick, I grabbed Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl off a pile of books in my office. I had just finished Fear by Michael Grant and wasn’t too keen on starting another series – especially a series that a) hasn’t been finished yet and b) consists of 500+ page books. But I knew this isn’t really about me, it’s about my students and providing them with access to books they’ll actually read so they may actually beat the odds and read more than 1 book after high school. Literacy is important to me. That’s no shock to anyone who knows me, so if I have to “take one for the team” to keep the kids reading, I’ll do it.
Earlier this week I wrote about my love/hate relationship with series. I found myself, once again, stuck in the doldrums of YA series. There was nothing fresh about my reading because all I did was read one book after another that continued a series I had already started. I’m happy to report that I have sailed out of the doldrums, but more about that in a later post.
For now, I want to talk about my students. On Wednesday after we finished round three of state tests, I had the opportunity to just sit and have a conversation with my students. I haven’t had this opportunity in quite some time since I’ve been hosting a student teacher. On Wednesday afternoon, I found myself alone with my seventh graders for the first time in 3 months. Furthermore, they were a bit spent from testing all morning. So when they came into the classroom, I had them sit down, pull out their independent books, and start reading. They read for only a few minutes. I just wanted them to center themselves more than anything. At the end of their reading session, I had them discuss their books with their friends. Pretty standard stuff.
This week my school is mired in state tests. It’s a tough week for teachers and students. So for obvious reasons I needed to share the following exchange:
I was signing out my test materials this morning when a colleague/friend/parent said to me, “You’re the reason my eighth grader goes to bed with a book every night.”
And as I carted my test supplies back to my room, I realizes that it just doesn’t matter what the tests show since the tests don’t measure a love of reading or a desire to be a lifelong reader. If my students have (re)discovered a love of reading than not only am I an effective teacher, but they are advanced-proficient in my book.