I’ve never taught sixth grade before. So far, I love it. Yes, they are hormotional, as we call it. They are obsessed with each other, and their clothes, and who likes who. They smell like a combination of stale sweat and cheap, alcohol based perfume and cologne. But they are able to have deep, meaningful discussions far beyond what younger kids can do. We talk about global warming, what defines a civilization, social justice, and debate whether math is invented or discovered. They are deep thinkers and social creatures. I’m so glad to spend my days with them.
They are on the cusp of childhood and the teenage years, holding on desperately while they also push away. I get to watch them become the people they will be- and help them along the way. This mix makes for some poignant , sometimes heartbreaking moments. I’ve watched friendships that are nearly a decade old fall apart, see kids realize their parents flaws, and helped them confront things like racism and terrorism.
But of course, there is also humor.
A few weeks ago at recess, I had two interactions that sum up sixth grade to me.
One of my girls, Rosa, shyly asked me if I would go on the swings with her. “Of course!” I told her. “I love the swings!” We swung together, feet pointed to the sky, talking about how while you may never be too old to swing, our butts were definitely not the size of the little butts these particular swings were made for.
“OMG!” Another student yelled, running over to us. (She actually said this phonetically- oh-em-gee.) “Hashtag teacherontheswings!”
Will, one of the boys strolled over. “You guys are on the swings?” He said disdainfully. “Yeah.” Rosa said between pumps. “The swings are great!”
He raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, if you’re like, six.”
Just then, another girl walked over to us. “Will, want to go on the swings with me?” She asked, smiling at him
“Yeah, definitely. I love the swings.” He said with a totally straight face, and immediately followed her to the open swings. Rosa looked at me with a raised eyebrow. “Interesting.” She said.