I’m nervous about plenty of things about my new job (32 hours til I start) but what scares me most is actually the age of my new students. I’ve spent two years teaching exclusively eighth graders, and suddenly I’ll be working with only sixth graders. More frightening yet, at summer school they’re practically still going to be fifth graders. That’s so small I’m afraid I won’t even be able to see them.
Everyone I’ve talked to LOVES sixth graders, so really I’m sure I will too. It’s supposed to be a great transition year, where they start out as sweet babies who still love their teachers and spend the year coming into themselves. They’re supposed to be sweeter and much less hardened than eighth graders, which means they might get temperamental as hormones kick in but overall they mean well. Plus, the math in sixth grade is going to be GREAT. It’s where the move to abstract math really starts, so it’s going to be challenging but the kids can’t be as far behind as they get in later years. Most things my 8th graders struggled with really get introduced in the sixth grade, and I think I’ll be a better math teacher at any grade level if I can become a good sixth grade math teacher. So really, this should be good.
But still, I’ve heard many times from many people that I was born to teach eighth graders. I love their personalities and watching as they learn to express themselves. I love how they’re old enough to understand sarcasm but young enough to still be a little gullible. I love that I can treat them like people and they can take it when you’re tough with them. I even like the challenges that their behaviors present. I’m afraid I’ll have to treat sixth graders like little kids and come up with cutesy gimmicks for my classroom. I’m afraid I’ll be sarcastic and make them cry. I’m afraid I’ll be tough with them and they’ll go tell their parents I’m mean. I’m afraid I won’t be able to relate to them or that they won’t be as entertaining as older kids. I’m afraid they’ll just be too small and I won’t know what to do.
Really, I adjust quickly and it should be fine. I’ve spent enough time working with younger kids that I’m sure it won’t take long to start acting like a sixth grade teacher instead of an eighth grade one. But if you’re not a teacher and don’t understand why two years is a big deal, just know that my degree is in 7th-12th grade education, because 6th grade is part of a whole different universe. It’s probably going to be great, but I’m still pretty daunted by the transition.