The thing about middle school students is that they are brutally honest. Wondering if your hair looks weird? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. Concerned that your outfit looks too strange? Most 13-year-olds will HAPPILY inform you of exactly what they think. There is no sugar coating. There is no concern for your feelings, just unbridled, realistic advice and commentary.
Sometimes, it’s adorable. For example, a student was once confiding in me about how she felt unpopular, lonely and was teased. As I was empathizing with her and encouraging her, she said, “Oh Miss E, I bet you were never, ever uncool or made fun of.” Clearly, she hasn’t seen this post.
Other times, students are straight up MEAN. But, the good thing is that they don’t usually throw a big fit if you get a little sassy with them. One student I have this year takes great delight in telling me she’s bored, or that my lessons are boring, or that I never teach them anything COOL. Luckily, she’s a sassy one, so she doesn’t get too offended when I say things like, “Does this look like a face that cares?” or when I feign sorrow and tell her I’ll change all of my lesson plans because GOD FORBID SHE IS BORED IN HER ENGLISH CLASS.
One of the things that’s hardest to get used to is the commentary on my makeup, hair, outfit, shoes, etc. I was wearing less makeup than normal the other day because my eyeliner had broken, and a student came in and took one look at me and said, “You’re tired today, huh? Or you just didn’t want to wear makeup?”
Anyways, one of my all-time best, most hilarious, honesty stories comes courtesy one of my favorite students. We were discussing the population of students that I work with. Gangs are a struggle, and many of my kids live in rough neighborhoods. I then asked my students why there weren’t any “emo kids” at the school. For those of you unfamiliar with the traditional emo kid:
Anyways, when I asked her, my student looked at me like I was INSANE. And then? She answered:
“Miss E? We got REAL SHIT TO WORRY ABOUT. I don’t care if my dad didn’t hug me enough when I was a kid, or that some boy I liked in 5th grade moved away. I worry about whether or not I’m gonna make it to school, yo! Forget those emo kids!”
And then, I laughed my face off for about 5 hours.
Love them, hate them, or fear them, middle schoolers can be pretty darn insightful.