I continue on my journey in the world of assistant teaching in this second semester. I have had quite a successful time observing the sixth and seventh grade English classes last semester; now I continue with sitting in with eighth grade.
Last semester, when I was with sixth and seventh grade, I noticed the maturity and advancement gap between the students, and I was quite amazed. Looking back at my own middle school years, I do not notice any large leap of mental capacity between those first two years of middle school. However, when I observed these two classes right after each other, it was very clear how much these students changed.
It seemed to me that the sixth graders were very new to this kind of schooling environment and were not quite sure of who they are. In the classroom, all the interactions were rather direct and formal. The students seemed to leave their personalities at the door in a sort of shyness.
When I sat in with seventh grade, their personalities shined throughout all of class. It was like seeing a room full of color, each student having something especially unique about them. By now, I believe they know who they are, or at least who they want to be and they are getting out of their shell. This proved to me to be a bit more of an interesting grade because these students are very critical in their thinking and work, but not so much so that it could possibly be detrimental to the learning environment. As I saw this class interact with each other and the teacher, I was beginning to see what I really wanted to do.
Now I pick up where I left off with the eighth grade English class. I have only been in two classes so far, but they were enough to surprise me. So far, I have seen the students gather into groups and talk about projects that they have started by themselves. I observed the level of intricacy that they take when doing research with each other. They were active listeners with each other, taking into account everything that was said, and having actual conversations with each other. Again, it was quite phenomenal to hear T. Alec again, and hearing it from these older students seemed more heartwarming.
One thing I did notice within minutes is two students having an argument about how one wanted to be called. Some background, I had no idea who these students were, I didn’t know if this was something that was problematic or any of those things. I wanted to step in, but I wasn’t sure how to, as I was pulling out my journal. Eventually, the conflict subsided and the students went back to work, but it still lingered in my head what I should have done. Later on, I talked with another teacher about these two particular students and explained to me the situation between them. I learned how these students functioned and gave me insight how to approach them if this problem rose again.
As always, I am very excited to keep going in the classroom every day and getting to know these students. I also will be heading into lower school sometime in the next week or so, so I plan to be very busy with this.