I have the opportunity to substitute teach on occasion and today I am in one of our local junior high schools, hanging out with 7th graders. Being in the junior high is always an interesting experience.
I enjoy observing the students in the hallway and in the classroom. There is such variety in the middle school years. Physically you have students that are early bloomers and others that are late. Many of the girls are taller than the boys. You can tell that some try to look older than they are, yet many of them could care less.
Socially you can tell right away who the “class clowns” are. (I have one sitting in my class right now). Some are just plain loud, while others keep to themselves. A few just can’t seem to sit still. While some are very concerned about academics, others are all about sports. Fashion is a concern for a portion of the students, while others seem pretty oblivious.
Some adults find the junior high years annoying at best; on most days, I enjoy being around them. They aren’t as “cool” as high school student tend to be, so they are a lot more real. You usually know what they are thinking because they come right out and say it most of the time. If they are mad, you know it. If they are having a good day, you see that as well.
Junior High years are all about change. They are changing and growing in so many ways. In dealing with middle schoolers, you not only need to see them as they are now, but who they will be. They are trying to discover who they are and need some love and grace to go through that process.
A good thing to remember is this – we were all junior high students at one time. Just as the people in our lives loved us enough to let us survive those years, we need to offer that same chance to today’s generation.