What a week. In my sixth week of student teaching in a local middle school, I had to complete two administrative discipline referrals for two different boys. One student was suspended (OSS) for three days, and I expect the other student will have to serve a day or two of in-school suspension (ISS) for calling me a bitch.

This was my fear about middle school – I would become some sort of warden-like witch trying to control the 2 -3 students with behavior problems instead of being a guide through literature and language arts for the thirty other students in my class. What makes me sad is that I know that these students, these troubled boys, have bigger problems than a 4’11” English teacher who made a career change in mid-life. One young man was just testing the water – lashing out at the “rookie” because something else in his life makes him feel powerless, opressed, and without a voice. I feel sad for these kids, and I wonder where they will be in a few years.

Having attended a job fair for teachers last week, I was not surprised when the line to talk with a middle school administrator was almost empty while the line to speak with a high school administrator was extremely long. And it’s not just happening where I live. A New York Times article states that more than 34 percent of first-year middle school teachers quit after the first year. After these six weeks, I’m not surprised.

On the upside, the other 90 students I see every day are great – smart, funny, capable – all deserving of a top-notch education. I hope the disruptions become fewer so we can get on with learning.


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