Kids: 5 Things to Know about Middle School

A MiddleWeb Blog

I’m pleased to introduce my daughter, Zoey Chandler. This past year, she started 6th grade in the same middle school where I work, and it was an eye-opening experience for me to see my world through her eyes.

Over and over, I was surprised by her “takes” on things: fights in the cafeteria were exciting, fire drills boring, and square dancing fun – which was especially shocking given her sheer hatred of physical education class. The first school dance was no big deal, but anxiety that no one would decorate her locker for her birthday was intense. (Thankfully, her good friend pulled through and it was decorated!)

This is her first published blog, and I think you’re going to want to hear more of her musings about being in the middle of the middle. She’d love your feedback, of course, so leave your thoughts in the comments.


By Zoey Chandler

This year, I’m going into seventh grade, and I can’t believe 6th went by so fast. Coming up from elementary, 6th grade is a surprise because as soon as you get into your rhythm, in, let’s say, November, it’s time for Christmas break, and then state tests, and really the year goes by so fast.

It’s also a surprise because it’s not like anything you would think, for the most part. I have a friend going into 6th grade this year, and I found myself saying to her, “really, this is not that hard, but this is SO different.” So I’d thought I’d share five things that I wish I had known going into sixth grade.

1. You can probably wear anything you want to gym class.

I am VERY opposed to gym class. I’m not sporty, so that’s stressful enough, AND I hate wearing shorts. I’m warming up to them now that it’s summer, but I just do not like shorts. So, finding what to wear during gym class is stressful.

In my school, we have five or six gym classes before you actually change and get active. It’s about two weeks worth of basically study hall. The class before we started real gym we talked about the rules. No jean shorts, no shorts too short (above your fingertips), no leggings, even sporty ones, and you must wear sneakers with good grip.

Well, next class, I walked in there, dreading the fact that I was wearing shorts. They were below my fingertips. But guess what, it was a sea of underwear shorts, some sport leggings, old sneakers, and even some jean shorts. That’s when I realized that you honestly can wear most anything to gym class.

Sometimes teachers overemphasize the rules to scare people, but nothing is as serious as it sounds at the beginning of the year.

2. Don’t stay in study hall.

This may sound weird, but follow me here. I had study hall during quarters 3 and 4, at 12:26-1:08. I play the violin, and also sing, so I had the option to go to the practice room, if I had a pass from my music teacher. My friend Ella and I both played violin and sang, and we had the same study hall. We would both get passes and go down there.

Let me tell you, it was one of the best parts of my day when we practiced together. She was one part in orchestra and I was the other. And the same in chorus. Our teachers were awesome, so we got music passes to go down and sing if we wanted, and we really learned off each other.

Another option is the library. If you have work to do, or you want to read, go there! C’mon, it’s air conditioned!!! I know some people have lots of work to do, but if you don’t, don’t just stay in study hall, get moving.

3. Keep your locker happy.

Your locker is your home away from home, so make it’s your happy place! It doesn’t take much money to decorate. Hang up pictures, good test grades, and happy quotes.

I have a “locker ladder” to help organize, and a whole shelf is for my stuff like snacks, gum, or lipgloss.

Also, weird side note, but if you have been told that your hallway is cleaning out lockers at, let’s say, 2:00, then clean yours MOSTLY out at some other time, like a bit between classes. This means that you will be quick, and if it’s really a mess, you won’t be embarrassed. This is a lifesaver for me.

4. Make good friends with your teachers.

They don’t always say they do, but teachers often (slash, always) have students they prefer to others. This isn’t a cheaty kind of tip, it’s good hearted. If you are kind to your teachers, and make friends with them, when you are in a moment of trouble, they will help you.

My home skills teacher last year loved me, and she was my favorite teacher as well. If I ever needed a pass, which was not often, she would give it to me without explanation. If you’re good in their class, they will repay you.

5. Discover your willing full friends.

I didn’t make any friends in my home room in 6th grade, except for one. All my friends were in 7th or 8th grade because I was involved in theater, and not many 6th graders were. So I had a bunch of friends, we just didn’t see each other much, except for rehearsal.

I was much different from the other kids in my 6th grade class, so I had a really hard time. However, I learned that there are always people willing to be your friends. You may not find your BEST friend but you will find a friend.

This year I found a lot of theatre friends who were extroverted and bubbly and not so much like me, but they were so kind and willing to be my friend that it didn’t matter. Just find someone willing to talk to you and take advantage of it.

Oh… you’re teachers.

So, you may be asking, why am I telling you this? Well, as a teacher, if you know all these things, then you can help your students find their way. It’s not just what teachers typically know about their students, and 6th grade has many nuances that you would never guess. Maybe if you can share these tips with your students or simply help them along, you can make it all the more easy for a nervous student.

________________

Zoey Chandler is 12 years old, going into the seventh grade, and loves school. She writes: “I love to act in theatre productions, like this year’s The Lion King, as well as Mystery At Shady Acres. I recently began a babysitting business called SuperKids Babysitting. Fun fact about me: my middle name is Rain, which is also my mom’s middle name.

“I’m a Buffalo NY girl, so I love the snow, and thunder and lightning storms. I like to cuddle up with a good book, such as A Series of Unfortunate Events, or my current read, Pretties. I love all things stationary and supplies, and school/learning. I’m excited to be writing for MiddleWeb.”

Amber Chandler

Amber Chandler is a National Board Certified middle school teacher and the author of The Flexible ELA Classroom. She is an adjunct professor at Canisius College where she teaches “Differentiating Instruction.” Amber blogs regularly for ShareMyLesson and Getting Smart, contributes to AMLE Magazine, and provides NBCT candidate support for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She is inspired by project-based learning and is the recipient of a Novo Foundation grant to make a documentary about her students’ journey in creating a positive online identity. Follow Amber on Twitter @MsAmberChandler and join her website http://doyoudifferentiate.com for practical tips and resources.

6 Responses

  1. Anita says:

    So this information is critical for not only teachers to know but for parents to know. getting ready to become a new parent to a foster child this is information that I’ll have in my back pocket to help them through some tough times. good luck in your long long Endeavor of writing.

  2. Kathy says:

    I believe that this information not only will be helpful to new students,but to others as well. Thank you for caring enough to share.

  3. Lea says:

    Loved reading this and will definitely take this into account as a 7th grade teacher! Keep writing and good luck this school year!

  4. Kelly Muldowney says:

    Loved this Zoey! This is why I always pulled students in from the hallway to share their experiences . You’ve been through it now so don’t be surprised if I pull you in to share your experience! Great blog kiddo!

  5. Mary Langer Thompson says:

    Good article, Zoey! I will share this on FB .

  6. donna says:

    Great post, Zoey! I may share this with my 7th graders, because you give good advice. Thank you for sharing your ideas! ;-)

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