Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I Learned in Middle School Today

Saint Petersburg
Today was my first day substitute teaching - ever.  I was assigned an 8th grade classroom.  I have not been in a Jr. High classroom in over 25 years.  I had no idea what to expect.

When I was in school I lugged around a pile of books throughout the day.  They were all stacked nicely in my locker and between classes I would switch out books.  This morning all the kids walked in with light backpacks and pulled out shiny laptops.  75% were Macs.  I immediately texted my husband thinking about our kids who only have ipads.  Did I miss the memo?  

When I was in school I did all my research for papers in the library.  I mades stacks and stacks of notecards with quotes, numbers, references.  Today the kids surf google - during class.  They cut and paste into their papers.

When I was in school we wrote notes on little scraps of paper and secretly passed them up and down the aisle to a friend.  Today kids message each other during class.

When I was in school the boys made spit wads and flicked them at friends - often I was in the line of friendly fire.  Today the boys "poke" the girls on facebook while in class.

When I was in school we sat in desks arranged in rows.  We worked quietly on our assignments.  Today as many kids as possible squeezed onto the couch with laptops propped on their knees.  At the moment it's six boys on the couch.  The rest of the class is sprawled on the floor or working at tables.  Not a desk in sight.

When I was in school we met in the gym for an assembly and sat on chairs we set up in the center.  The presenter held a microphone which screeched if pointed in the wrong direction.  A portable movie screen was set up teetering on its three legs.  We viewed notes typed on clear plastic transparencies and a fancy presenter would use four primary colors of markers to write explanations or draw pictures.  If we were lucky the slide projector would come out and we would look at pictures of other places in the world - until it jammed.  Today we sat in plush seats in an auditorium and gazed at what seemed like an imax size screen.  A power presentation smoothly flashed before my eyes.  The speaker began by asking the middle school students who had facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat and several other social media platforms I have never heard of.  Hands went up all over the theater for each type.  None of these had even been thought of when I was a student.  He talked about the power of instant communication each individual has on a global scale.  He showed a video of instant communication going in and out of Thailand - texting, FB - when the tsunami hit.  It was amazing.  Within moments the world knew of this great tragedy because of social media.  He asked us to take out our cell phones (yes, mine was in my pocket) and google ourselves.  What came up?  Apparently we are supposed to be checking every month.  I'll "add" that to my to-do list.  He asked about our google profiles.  Apparently this is an essential tool I am not using to create a virtual profile.  What is that?

I am so out of touch.      

But somethings really haven't changed.

Uniforms or not, boys are still slobs and the girls look like they spent hours in front of the mirror this morning.

 The girls are diligently working on their assignments and the boys are distracted every few minutes and distracting everyone else.

As the day progresses the air quality in the room digresses.  

I'm glad I'm not a student because I don't think I could handle middle school these days.

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