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Fifty Great Things About Middle Schoolers!


October is the Month of the Young Adolescent... No age is more maligned than ten- to fourteen-year-olds! So Education World went right to the source -- to middle school teachers -- to learn what's so great about this group. The dedication and the humor of middle school educators shines through in their list of FIFTY GREAT THINGS ABOUT MIDDLE SCHOOLERS!

Fifty Great Things About Middle School Image

Everybody is aware of the bad rap that middle-grade students get. Young adolescents inspire all kinds of jokes.

Rita Rudner must have had young adolescents in mind when she said, "My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can't decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives."

And I think it was Steven Wright who said "Hire young teenswhile they know everything!"

Middle school youngsters earn some of the barbs aimed at them -- because sometimes they act more like second graders than seventh graders! But students in the middle grades are in that strange netherworld between childhood and adolescence. Their bodies are changing. So are their minds, their thought processes. It's a time "when many battles for the self are won and lost," says Mary Pipher (Reviving Ophelia) of students in these in-between years


Middle school teachers are a rare breed. They're my heroes! To be a middle school teacher -- something this former third-grade teacher could never imagine being -- requires great patience and creativity, great dedication, and, above all, a great sense of humor.

So why do middle school teachers love what they do? Why wouldn't they trade places with teachers in the elementary or high school grades? That's what I wanted to know. And that's why I enlisted the help of Education World's "Principal Files" principals and the teachers on the Middle-L listserv I asked them

What's so great about middle school kids?

Through their responses shines that special dedication -- along with flashes of the required sense of humor!

Here, in honor of the Month of the Young Adolescent -- and with big-time thanks to the middle school educators who contributed* -- are


  1. They are eager to learn.
  2. They are willing to be directed.
  3. They are diverse and interesting.
  4. They leave after three years!
  5. They're just plain fun to be around.
  6. They have lots of energy.
  7. Most of them love school.
  8. They are like clay -- still impressionable.
  9. They can be influencedpositively.
  10. Ninety-two of them are great singers (says the director of the 93-member middle school chorus).
  11. They keep me young.
  12. They want to fit in, but they also want to do well in school.
  13. They have great personalities.
  14. Every day is different.
  15. They are potty-trained -- hopefully!
  16. They are a study in contrasts.
  17. They love new ideas.
  18. They have good manners...generally.
  19. They will contribute to my social security fund!
  20. They respond well to adults.
  21. They are enthusiastic -- times two!
  22. They are caring (usually *not* just about themselves!).
  23. They are fun to teach -- and to learn from.
  24. They're electric!
  25. They are easy to please.
  26. They grow out of it!
  27. They're becoming so aware of everything around them.
  28. They make me laugh all the time.
  29. They are cool!
  30. They come up with the most interesting ideas.
  31. They like to try new things.
  32. They aren't shy about sharing their thoughts.
  33. They are so in-your-face honest!
  34. They are independent, but they still like their teachers.
  35. They love to use my mirror!
  36. Hugs are still popular (as long as the other students don't see them giving you one!).
  37. They still have hopes and dreams, and they love to share them.
  38. They are fashion critics, sure to tell you if you're dressed to meet "the standard"!
  39. Everything is funny to them.
  40. They're unpredictable.
  41. They have great conversation skills.
  42. They enjoy my corny stories and jokes.
  43. They're unorganized, but manageable.
  44. There's no need for aerobics because teachers get plenty of exercise trying to keep up with them!
  45. They are helpful.
  46. They can be molded in spite of the "supposed" I-hate-all-grown-ups attitude.
  47. The light in their eyes still shines.
  48. You never know what will come out of their mouths next.
  49. There's never a dull moment!

    And the fiftieth thing teachers think is great about teaching middle schoolers

  50. June! July! And August!

*A big THANK YOU to the teachers who contributed to this list -- those at Lester Middle School (Okinawa, Japan); Christian County Middle School (Hopkinsville, KY); Whitney Institute Middle School (Bermuda); Fairgrounds Jr. High School (Nashua, NH); and Washington Middle School (Maryville, MO).

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1998 Education World


Updated 9/09/08