I really am not sure you’ll believe me when I describe what it’s like working with this particular 7th grade. The best I can do, short of filming them and putting them on YouTube, which would be illegal anyway, is to make you imagine a cartoon in which every single character is in an insane asylum and each moves about in his or her own respective insane world, functioning occasionally in the world in which I find myself. (I guess that implies I operate in my own insane world, which is probably true, but I think because of my 7th graders’ blossoming hormones their worlds are infinitely more insane than mine.)
For example, in English class today:
I am in the middle of explaining the term “exposition” with respect to short stories. To my left is a boy with a pen up his nose. “Student,” I say, “Take the pen out of your nose.” He does so. Precisely two seconds later, the kid has the same pen up his nose again. “Student.” I say, this time more sternly. “Pen. Nose. Out.”
“Okay, Ms. Coggio.”
But then I turn my head and stifle a laugh because I can’t believe I’ve said that to a twelve year old for the second time. One student sees me smile and then it’s all down hill. The next thing I know I am in a dream-like state where every single person I meet (each of my 7th graders) is weird for a different and very specific reason. So suddenly, not only do I have Pen-Up-The-Nose Boy, I have TWO-Pens-Up-The-Nose Boy. Two-Pen’s friend is named Fake-Crying-Girl who is goofing off with Crazy-Face Boy, enemies of Super Annoying Laughter Boy. Fake-Crying Girl gets Fake Crying Boy started, who has Hand Over Head Clapping Boy in hysterics because Crazy One-Eyed Squinty Man has made a sudden appearance in the room. I have Little Beetleguise Who Goes By The Name “Butterfly” over in the corner hopping around desks and then there are the Angels of Silence who sit patiently waiting for my reaction.
This is a real 7th grade class, Internet. I am not making this up. I was so disturbed by this sudden morphing from students into freaks that I walked out of the room and sat on a bench while they carried on with their personalities. When I returned, I stood against the wall for support and told them I wasn’t sure they were actually human and that I’d be sure to include them in my prayers tonight.
As much as I need to be serious about teaching important stuff to my kids, I think it’s just as important to be able to laugh. A lot. I think schools without laughter, teachers without laughter, and classes without laughter are a drain for everyone. It’s so important to connect school and learning to good, positive moments with teachers and students. It makes teaching so much more bearable for me and I know it makes students more eager to come to class. This first month of school was tough (can you believe it’s been a month already?) but now things are loosening up and relaxing. It’s time to sit back and laugh a little. I’m just lucky I work with kids who are so weird that they provide humor constantly.