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  • So. We are almost done. My last week of TOSS is coming to an end and, prior to today, I was glad to see it go. I know, I know….this has been a great experience. But, there's been something about the 6th grade classroom, though, that really hasn't been "it" for me. I have had the constant question "How in the world do these teacher deal with this, day in and day out?"

    I understand why these teachers go crazy sometimes. 6th graders are fresh out of elementary school. They act like little kids with bigger bodies and these mysterious things called hormones that some lucky ones get earlier than others. They have the attention span of a….they don't have an attention span. Like at all. They will stare at you like they hear every word you are saying, they may even nod to comply that they understand your direction…but, it never fails, at least one will ask you, verbatim, what you were saying when you were standing in front of them 2 seconds prior. Which is fine. I totally understand that they are just learning this whole middle school thing. They are just learning this whole go to your locker, copy your homework, do your homework, turn in your homework thing. I think I have just found a whole lot of frustration because I want them to be older. I want them to understand more. I want them to be….not 6th graders.

    So I'm glad to say good bye to the 6th grade and never look back…well that was true until today.

    I was packing up, handing back papers I had just spent the period before grading. I planned on hitting the copy room for a good half hour to wrestle with that damn paper cutter yet again so that these kids can have their precious DGP handout next week. Third period was about to head to lunch. This period is the rowdiest. These kids talk bad about and to each other. They are super clichey, rude, obnoxious, annoying, and loud. Like really loud. I can't say I have made much of a connection with third period because I usually head out around the time that they settle down enough to be taught (about 20…no 30 minutes into the class period). I never once taught them. All I am to that class is a face that walks around the classroom, handing out grades, asking how their day is going, and then heading out.

    That's why today shocked me.

    Today a young girl, lets call her Shannon, approaches me, a bright smile on her face. I spoke to her a few times, but really hadn't made much of a connection with the girl. She comes walking up to me with a single piece of notebook paper in her hand. It was folded hamburger style and I could see from a distance green pen written on the "meat" side.

    "Here you go, Ms. Morris. This is for you."

    Oh goodie. Another paper to grade. I assumed it was a late homework assignment. I smiled and thanked Shannon, a regrettable tinge of sarcasm in my voice. I walked back to my desk and unfolded the paper.

    "We'll miss you Ms. Morris! Good luck" The paper read. I didn't need a rubric for this. I didn't even need to grade this. I stared at the paper as the class filed out…excuse me...flooded out of the room. Silence. It was like one of those cheesy movie moments that makes a person reflect on their entire existence. Well, maybe not that dramatic, but it was pretty perfect. I sat down at my desk, placing the note, written side up, in front of me. Shannon is going to miss me. This girl. I never once taught this class a lesson. I never once stood up in front of them, or gave them an assignment, or led them through stations. I never once did much but be in that classroom at the same time they were…and she was going to miss me?

    In those silent moments, I began to really think of why these teachers love their job at that middle school. I began to think of Dr. J and why she finds her 6th grade classroom home. These kids notice. These kids see what is around them, even if its just a small presence, and they catch on, they soak in, they see you.

    These kids saw me and my influence, whether good or bad. I effected these kids and I didn't have to say much. This really made me think about not just my effect as a future teacher, but just as life in general. I have the ability to touch lives around me, to make people miss me when I am gone. What am I doing about it? How am I being a teacher? What kind of teacher, influencer, person do I want to be to those that surround me? And am I aware of my audience? Obviously, not. Obviously, I need to open my eyes more and see that as a teacher, all eyes are on me. I need to realize that even in the unspoken, unless on planned moments, I have the ability to effect...I have the ability to be missed…the question is, what will I do with it?

    So, no, I don't want to teach 6th grade. But I'm not going to leave this experience and never look back. It's not the open road ahead, forget about the rear view mirror. I'll look back on where I've been. It would be foolish not to.
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