K-5 to K-12--Part 1: Observations

I had 10 years of K-5 teaching under my belt last year and was comfortably living "the dream."  I knew the routine for shoe-tying, nose picking, puking, elementary musicals, and all other fun elementary experiences.  AND THEN THEY MADE ME K-12!!!! 

Horror, panic--no wait a minute, I GOT THIS!  No I don't.  NO I DON'T.  Breathe, just breathe.  Everything will be okay . . . . . . . maybe.  I hope?  No, I CAN do this. . . . perhaps?

Such were the roller coaster thoughts of my brain as my whole teaching world was changed.

Flash forward:  I have successfully "survived" 7 months of being K-12 (elementary and choir).  It has been a ton of work, not gonna lie.  But, I thought I would write a blog post about my observations as a "first year" K-12 teacher.  I hope to add other K-12 posts in the future.  Perhaps it will offer some hope or help to those of your in similar situations.  If nothing else, I hope it offers the feeling that you aren't alone. 


(Keep in mind I went from elementary to K-12, so my observations will be about the 7-12 land . . . )

1.  Hormones:  Be ready for a whiplash of emotions from a lot of your students.  

Downside:  It would be amazing if they stayed in the same mood for two days in a row so I could figure this thing out!  I've had to learn not to take their moods personally.  You would think I would know this from 10 years of prior teaching, but nope!  It's a new type of patience to not respond to the ebb and flow of their teenage worlds.  Not to mention teaching students who tower over me . . .

Upside:  They understand emotions more when they sing.  They can connect with the music.  They get the goose bumps when something musically beautiful happens.  And they want to sings songs about love that my elementary kids always thought were "gross." 

2.  Words:  They know how to explain their thoughts better now.

Downside:  In elementary you tell a student to stop talking and they do.  In middle and high school they look at you and tell you they weren't talking to begin with.  (Ummmmm, then why were your lips moving when we weren't singing?)  And then they huff and puff for the rest of class and you are sure they are snap chatting evil things to their friends about you later that day.  I still haven't figured out Snap Chat . . . that's a lesson for another day! 

Upside:  They are smart.  Really smart.  I LOVE the ideas that some of them come up with.  Not to say elementary students don't, but I really love that some of them have such deep thoughts and passions now.  Politics.  Social justice.  Music.  Rap.  Fashion.  Sports.  Acting.  I love the connections I can make with my students about their interests.  And they get more of my jokes now!  Which they sometimes groan about, but hey, I'm just happy to have an informed audience!

3.  Friends:  Mean everything to them now.

Downside:  Their phones are their third arm.  And they don't seem to understand that they don't need them every second of the day.  If I have to tell one more person to put their phone away . . . Oh, and they make choices based on their friends rather than what they actually want to do.  I guess I forgot about that part of being a teenager. 

Upside:  Their friends motivate them.  Positive peer pressure is a great tool for getting students to learn and inspire each other.  Not gonna lie--I feel like I need to get more of the "positive" thing rolling in my 7-12 classes this year.  But I know it took me several years to really feel comfortable at K-5 and I have to expect something similar in the 7-12 realm. 

4.  Self-Awareness:  In other words, they are often only aware of themselves :)

Downside:  Think back to when you were a teenager.  Did you ever REALLY focus on what other people needed, or were you mostly concerned about yourself and how others saw you?  Teenagers are painfully aware of how others see them to the point that it is tough for me to watch.  I just want to tell them to be who they are and stop worrying about what other people think!! 

Upside:  They want to be loved and accepted by everyone--including you!  What have you done to make sure your students know you care about them?  Some things I have done:  gone to sporting events, sent post cards home about positive things I've appreciate about them, watched TV shows they like so I can talk about it with them, let them pick a One Direction song for our Pops Concert (please don't judge me!), shake their hand at the door (which they WILL adjust to, I promise), stretch to music they like on Fridays, etc.  AND, I really enjoy it.  It's the best part about my job--that I get to build someone up who I genuinely care about (an may remember me in the future since I didn't stop teaching them in 5th grade)  :)

I have a gazillion more thoughts, but these were the few I chose to write about today.  I would love to hear from other K-12 teachers.  Or even secondary teachers--good advice is always welcome!

Catch you next time I have something Noteworthy!