Posted tagged ‘junior high boys’

Riding A Bus With 7th Grade Boys

November 1, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         October 31, 2016

                            

During the course of this school year I will have coached three middle school athletic teams- a 7th Grade football team and two 8th Grade basketball teams. Some who may be reading this might be thinking I’m crazy, but my response is…what a hoot! I receive so much writing material from coaching middle school kids. They never cease to amaze me…and, ironic as it may sound, teach me!

Last week our 7th and 8th Grade basketball teams had about a 30 minute bus ride to an away game. The 8th Grade boys take control over the back few rows of the bus. It is their domain, their clubhouse! There is an invisible “Do Not Enter!” sign at about Row 10. The 7th Grade boys therefore take up residence in the front and middle sections, a safe two seats back from the coach, but close enough for me to hear their conversation.

I learned things!

First of all, 7th Grade boys jump from topic to topic like a game piece in a checker’s match. Here’s a snippet (Names have been changed):

“I hate math!

“Mr. _________ is mean!”

“He sends people to the office for just breathing!”

“Dude, I got a whiff of Emily Johnson breath after lunch. I got ill!”

“What did she have for lunch?”

“I think those garlic bread sticks and crap!”

“Dude, she said hi to me in the cafeteria and it was like her butt was saying hello!” (Chuckling and laughter. Butt and farting language is considered cool and 7th Grade boys feel obligated to laugh even if they don’t think it is that funny!)

“Dude, I can not eat the food they serve in the cafeteria!”

“I can’t wait for the new Chick-fil-a to open.”

“It won’t make any difference to us! We can’t leave school for lunch until we’re like 18!”

“I can’t wait until I’m 18 to have different food for lunch!”

“Dude, suck it up!”

“I’m getting a new puupy!”

“Sweet!”

“Dude, you’ll have to pick up all the poop!”

Laughter and chuckling!

With that conversation in mind, the second thing I learned is that 7th graders begin sentences with “Dude!” if they are about to make a statement that requires a hearing. “Dude” is the emphasizer! It signals to the gathered cluster that what the boy is about to say is important to listen to…even if it isn’t!

“Dude, did you hear about Amy doing a face plant coming down the stairs today?”

“Dude, that was awesome!”

“Dude!”

“Dude!”

Sentiment is not a big thing with 7th Grade boys, especially if it is related to klutziness or the unexpected.

The third thing I learned is that 7th Grade boys have lost all understanding of “inside voice, outside voice.” You know what I’m talking about? Volume control! The conversation will be going along in a normal way and someone will erupt like a Hawaiian volcano in jet engine level volume. They have no concept of how their voices can enter the radar screen of annoying.

And yet their youthfulness is their gift, their stress reliever. I’m sitting in row two thinking about the game that is looming on the horizon, getting my mind right, thinking about player rotations and offensive principles…and they are thinking about how does the chocolate chewy part get  inside a grape-flavored Tootsie Roll Pop?

There’s something…pure and simple about that, something that I probably need to lean towards.

Dude!

Observing Junior High Math Class

February 10, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                February 10, 2016

                                 

On Monday I sat in on two different junior high math classes. As I’m gearing up to be a substitute teacher I wanted to experience another classroom situation, and also to revisit the subject that I had difficulty with back when Moby Dick was a minnow. I was great with numbers…and then some wise guy started including letters into the problem. I got lost in the midst of “x’s” and “y’s”. If you asked me how much 45 times 20 was I could tell you faster than an adding machine, but put a letter into the mix and I floundered like a fish flopping in the bottom of the boat.

But I went willingly to this classroom of formulas and adolescent confusion, and I learned several things. One, that I actually understood part of the lessons, and enjoyed it…kind of!

Two, that junior high boys haven’t changed since 1968! Oh, they have fancier devices now, but at the core they are twins two generations removed from those who sat in the same classrooms.

Thirteen year old boys still make noises. When the teacher was on the other side of the room there was a good chance that a farting sound would come from somebody. One boy broke out in a humming sound until he was asked to keep it quiet. Pencils were used at various moments as drumsticks on desk tops. Fingers were snapped against open jaws to make popping sounds.

Junior high boys make noise!

Junior high girls ranged from totally quiet to “Chatty Cathy’s”, who would suddenly erupt in nonsensical comments. During a class time when students worked together on an assignment you could hear snippets of conversations about Super Bowl Dorito’s commercials, the half-time entertainment, and what was eaten that day for lunch.

Junior high boys still like attention. I identified the three boys in the first five minutes of the class whose social standing was based on their wisecracks and off-the-wall humor. They weren’t malicious…just in need of being noticed.

Junior high students are special. Several people asked me why I would observe in a classroom of 8th graders. Was I on some kind of probation and this was part of my sentencing? Did I not get that memo about how junior high boys cause hair-pulling and temporary instructor insanity?

Actually, I enjoy thirteen year olds just as much…maybe even more…than sixteen and seventeen year olds.

There you go! Now you know I’m warped!