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Dear Middle School Teacher

September 5, 2018

Dear Middle School Teachers

It’s Back-to-School time, and I can about imagine you are running on caffeine, little sleep, exhaustion, and bundles of nerves of hopeful anticipation of all the amazing dreams you have for the students entrusted to your care.  I get it, because I used to be you.

Few of us choose middle school as our ultimate teaching assignment, but middle schoolers need teachers too. For some of us, we were sentenced to a term in middle school because there were no other openings available.  Even though I have moved on to a different level of education, at the end of the day I still consider myself a middle school specialist.  Even though middle school wasn’t my first choice, there is no other group of students who hold a more precious place in my heart.  I miss the days of working with learners who were young enough to still be genuinely excited about learning and not old enough to be completely jaded about just about everything in life.

Many people would shudder at even the thought of working with this group of students because I think the painful memories of their own experiences with early adolescence cloud their judgment.  But I am thankful for you – the amazing middle school teachers who show up each day ready to change the world by showing these early teens how incredibly awesome they really are!

You make more of a difference than you will ever know. In my areas of study, you brave educators in the middle school trenches are often listed as the reason many girls who chose STEM majors and careers found an interest in the areas that girls believe they aren’t supposed to be good at.  You open the doors to new dreams, to the possibilities of new ideas, and to eye-opening experiences of new adventures.

You teach so much more than the content assigned by your contracts.  You reconfigure neural networks, but you also shape and mold hearts and develop the traits of persistence, resilience, integrity, and compassion.  And sometimes, you teach children the appropriate ways to be rebels because yes, my dear ones, the world will always need those souls who are willing to stand up for injustice and be creative enough to think outside of the box to bring solutions to society’s big problems.

But I know what you do isn’t easy.  There are long hours that go beyond the school day, carrying over into weekends, evenings, holidays, and yes, despite the moronic myth of summers off, even there too. There is never a time that you aren’t thinking about how you can use some new encounter in your classroom.

Being an educator is much like being a parent in that it can be singularly the most exhausting experience while simultaneously being the most rewarding too.  For some of us that time spent in middle school ended up being the BEST. DARN. DECISION. of our careers.

I know those times of frustration will arise, but hang on, my friends, because you will see an act of kindness from a kiddo that you didn’t know was possible or you will see a child who has been struggling suddenly have the light bulb come on.  It is in those precious moments that you are etching your place in the that learner’s future.  Savor those moments and bottle them up as the antidote to any frustrations you experience because what you do day-in and day-out matters.

It matters A LOT.

MMS

A conversation recently reminded me how much what you do matters. Talking on the phone with my best friend, she asked how my youngest was feeling about school starting.  I relayed that she was excited but was also torn because it was her last year at the middle school.  Her time at Marshall Middle School has been the absolute best experience of all of her years of schooling and she was feeling the bittersweet tug of knowing that every moment of her time this year would be the last.

My bestie’s prophetic words stopped me in my tracks.  How incredibly awesome for her that she will be able to look back on her middle school years and remember them as a sacred time.

She was right.

Not many adults can say that and much of what my sweet girl has considered amazing comes as a direct result of your efforts.

No matter where you teach, my dear middle school teaching friends, I couldn’t be more thankful for all the hard work each of you does!

So, just in case you didn’t know it – YOU. ARE. AMAZING!

Wishing you and all your students the best year ever!

Go get your TEACH on!

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