I am constantly amazed at how 8th graders can go from one extreme to the next in the span of sixty seconds. I just cannot imagine living in such a crazed state all the time, although when I was pregnant, I did once pour half a bottle of syrup on the kitchen floor (but that, my friends, is a story for another time).
Still, I'm sure that most of you remember how in middle school, you and your classmates could easily go from being best friends to enemies in the span of a day? And likewise, you could be fighting with someone at lunchtime and then pass them notes in 7th hour?
Unfortunately, teachers are not exempt from this hormonal craziness. I have a student who from DAY ONE has had a chip on her shoulder. I had her older brother last year, and he ended up suspended the last week of school when he swore at me, left my classroom, and then left the SCHOOL. When I saw her last name on my class roster, I was worried that would happen, but I was more than willing to be proven wrong. She was rude to me on the first day of school and was then tardy to my class each day thereafter. All of her friends in that class were immediately rude to me, as well, and I started to dread it. I kept trying to be nice, but eventually, I had to come down on them and let them know that they did not run the class, I did. After that, they just refused to look at me.
I kept trying, though, and I smiled at them just like I did all the other students. It didn't seem to work, and I could just feel the glares and eye rolls the instant I turned my back. Today, I made cookies for all of my students to do an exercise on sensory details. I was dreading the class they were in, because I worried that, somehow, they'd do or say something to ruin a fun activity.
As always, I underestimated the power of hormones. Suddenly, this girl who has hated me since day 1 was my BFF. She came up to my desk and began to confide in me a number of heavy things she has going on in her life right now. She then said, "I thought you'd hate me because of my brother," which broke my heart. I told her that I didn't hate her, and I certainly wouldn't because of her brother. I told her that, actually, I liked her brother a lot and thought he was really funny. Then, in typical 8th grade fashion, she began hopping up and down, telling her friends, "Mrs. C likes me the BEST!" She also asked me if I thought she was fat, a question that always makes me want to smack an 8th grader! After that, she asked if she could sit next to my desk, and it was all I could do to pinch myself and wonder if I was dreaming. I hope this isn't a fluke and that it lasts, because now that I've finally gotten a chance to know her and talk to her, she's really a sweet girl. And you know, if I'm to be honest here... teachers? We just want to be liked, too.