being me, new year, reflection

What if They Eat Me Alive?

The nightmares have already started.

You know the ones; you wake up with your heart pounding, sweaty palms, and this sinking feeling in your stomach.  The students hated you again.  They were out of control.  The parents complained.  You forgot what you were doing.  You weren’t prepared.  Ah yes, the back to school nightmares have already started for me.  Yet school is not out for another 7 weeks, so why is my heart racing every morning when I wake up?

Last week, I took a giant leap of faith and accepted a 7th grade English position in an incredible district, Oregon, with the possibility of working with a new amazing  team.  And now, my dreams haunt me.  I always thought I would be in 5th grade forever, maybe inch my way into 6th, but 7th?  Those are for the truly brave teachers.  That grade level is for those teachers that can handle anything.  Not for me, I am not that good.  Yet, when this opportunity arose, I knew I had to try.  I knew I had to jump.  I knew I had to believe that I could do it.  So now my nightmares are making me pay for it as I feel like the new kid on the very first day of school.

What if they hate me?

What if they think I’m not funny or that my ideas are stupid?

What if I can’t help them become better writers?

What if they don’t want to read?

What if they hate picture books?

What if they eat me alive?

I hope by September 2nd, when those first kids enter the room, that my nightmares have stopped.  I can only hope, and prepare, and dream.  And find really great picture books.  Keep your fingers crossed.


14 thoughts on “What if They Eat Me Alive?”

  1. Walk the other way —
    What if they LOVE me?

    What if they think I’m ARE funny or that your ideas are GRAND?

    What if I DO help them become better writers?

    What if they DO want to read?

    What if they LOVE picture books?

    What if they LOVE me GREATLY!!

    Remember, choosing you for this position was not a whim by administration! they see in YOU something they want their students to experience!!

    push the nightmares aside – you are going to have a WONDERFUL year!!

    1. I meant to write more but I kept getting cut off. Here’s the rest of my thoughts:

      Students at that age do tend to be mood swingy and you may encounter students with very grown up issues and problems but they really aren’t so different. You already approach your class with respect and favour collaboration so you will avoid most of the stereotypical power struggles.

  2. Having followed your blog for some time Pernille… I can assure you, you are going to be an amazing middle school teacher! BUT every August, you’re going to have these thoughts again… all the best, Don

  3. I think you will love it! I am a former 7th grade ELA teacher and a former kindergarten teacher. I wouldn’t have chosen either for myself, but loved them both. I think middle school gets a bad rap. 7th grade students like teachers who like them and try their best to make learning fun and engaging. Those teachers I see getting “eaten” are those who feel they need to be in control and the students need to be tightly kept under their thumb in order to manage the classroom effectively. I can’t wait to hear about the next step in your journey. Your continual willingness to step outside your comfort zone inspires me to do the same. Thank you!

  4. After spending more than half of my career with seventh grade students, I can not only relate to your nerves, I also have good news. Seventh graders are some of the most compassionate, creative, and social-justice minded students I’ve ever taught. They ride the line between wanting permission to be a child and wanting more adult respect and responsibility–and they need both parts of their personality honored and encouraged. They crave acceptance and a place where they feel safe to express their ideas and ask questions. From only knowing you through your writing, I’m sure your students will love you! I would love to collaborate.

  5. I taught middle school for a handful of years and upper elem. the remaining years and coached 7th and 8th graders. I love the age group, as I know you do.

    Brutal honesty? It’s not a question of IF they will eat you alive, Pernille, but when. 🙂

    Not all of them, but some of them.

    Most of them will love you. What’s not to love?! I know you’ll be a lasting influence in their lives and for that they should thank their lucky stars – but one or two of them might not realize it at the time!

    They’ll push, they’ll resist, they’ll talk back, they’ll keep you up at night.

    The teachers who love their kids the most are always kept up at night.

    But it won’t be much different from what you’ve experienced in every classroom since you’ve been teaching. The kids will just be a tad bit taller.

    Keep on doing what you do. You’re a master at the work of building relationships to provide that essential learning foundation.

    You got this, even when they try to take a bite every now and then!

  6. As a junior high teacher for the past 11 years I think I have the answers you seek…

    What if they hate me?
    They will. 🙂 They will hate you when you push them. They will hate you when you hold them accountable. They will hate you when you expect more out of them then they do themselves. They will hate you because it’s a Tuesday or because they ran out of tots at lunch. They will certainly hate you when you inform them then B.O. is not the latest fad in personal hygiene.

    What if they think I’m not funny or that my ideas are stupid?
    They will think you are lame and your ideas are stupid. They will not get your witty references to 90s TV shows or why you think your clothes are “in”. I am told I am lame on a daily basis and the number of my ideas that have been called stupid by my students is endless. Yet, every once in a while you will get them to laugh and some of your ideas will strike a chord. Just keep at it.

    What if I can’t help them become better writers?
    You will do everything you can and for some it will be too much and for others, not enough. Is that any different from any level? The good thing is you will have high quality Common Core standards to guide your way. 😉

    What if they don’t want to read?
    Good luck with this one. Junior High is where you see a strong push back on reading. Getting kids to read is often similar to pulling teeth, especially the boys. Persistence and a constant conversation about the good books you are reading will go a long way.

    What if they hate picture books?
    I have not found this to be true yet…kids of all ages seem to love to be read to.

    What if they eat me alive?
    Inevitably they will. Then they will spit you out and try it again the following day. Yet, every time this happens you will learn and grow and so will they.

    Good luck and welcome to the Dark Side!!

  7. I cut my teaching “teeth” in 7th grade. Being a career changer, I was “scared” to death. But with a great team, I made it through as a first year teacher. The 3 years I taught , were the most challenging and fun of my teaching career. They are the middle child.. Not the “babies” of 6th grade, and not the “pffft” I’m so out of here 8th grade. They are fun and loved to be challenged. The are tweenagers. They rebel against authority but still look for the positive feedback and the fact that you care about them. Both of those you have are things that appear to be second nature to you. I’ve changed districts and now teaching 5th grade, after a stint of 3 years in 4th, but still look for opportunities to get back to 7th grade. You’ll be hated and loved, disrespected and respected and that could all be in the same day. You’ll be fantastic.

  8. My favorite years of teaching were in the 7th grade. Reading about your talents and passion, I think you’ll knock it out of the park. I found 7th graders to be a really great age group. They are very quick to sense, and respect teachers who are their true advocates. I taught a subject that wasn’t my “specialty” but I focused on the relationships and I always enjoyed how genuine and grateful they were. Good luck to you, but I don’t think you’ll need luck. 🙂

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