One of my struggles as a teacher has been trying to find ways to make my students interested in what we’re learning about in class. Believe me when I tell you that I’ve tried many techniques over the years: real world scenarios, odd facts relating to the lesson, demonstrations, lab experiments, student projects…you get the picture.
However, God has blessed me in a very profound way since I’ve been at Cookson Hills. He has helped me capture my students’ attention more than I ever could on my own: He has placed me in middle school. If anyone reading this has or knows a middle school child, you may be laughing a little to yourself. Middle school students can be wonderful, sweet, weird, curious, expressive, weird, concise, imaginative, weird…oh, did I repeat one of those? Yes, to everyone who doesn’t know this: middle schoolers are weird. However, this can be a VERY useful tool in the classroom. I’ve had lessons with material that I’ve considered to be as boring as dry toast; but somehow, my middle school students, with their weird perspective on life, take in these lessons with rapt attention and wide-eyed awe (which they often express very dramatically…and loudly).
I remember one particular 7th grade science lesson last year; we were beginning invertebrates, and the organism we focused on was the sponge. I can still remember some of the students’ questions, “Wait, if it doesn’t have a mouth, then how does it eat?”, “Are the sponges we use in the bathroom, do those come from these sponges?”, or “WAIT. WHERE’S ITS HEART?” To be frank, I was not looking forward to this lesson, but my students’ natural curiosity for and WEIRD questions about an organism completely different from themselves made it a pleasure to teach. To top off the lesson, the next day, one of the students came into class and told me, “Miss Robinson, I was telling so-and-so about sponges at lunch time, and she was NOT interested. Isn’t that weird?! I mean how can someone not find sponges interesting?!”
Middle schoolers’ natural curiosity has not just had humorous effects. It has opened up the chance for them to ask questions about God and Christianity that otherwise, they’d never probably had the chance to ask. I am reminded of lesson with the 7th grade geography class last year (yes, these are the same students who loved sponges). We were addressing the religion of Islam. Typically, this lesson would take one class period. However, this time, it took three class periods to complete the entire introductory lesson. My students were not only fascinated by the different facets of Islam, but were drawn to its differences from Christianity. Middle schoolers, while weird, are also very curious and are perfectly capable of asking very concise, deep questions about God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell, and even the condition of man’s nature. This class in particular asked very difficult questions. So difficult, that I had to take extra time before I answered some of them. However, this lesson gave me the chance to present Christ to them using their very own questions. Their God-given curiosity presented me with the opportunity to plant seeds of faith and also strengthen their relationship and belief in His saving grace!
Middle school is quite a ride, but I enjoy it. They’re my kiddos. They’ve blessed my life in so many ways (one being that I am NEVER bored). So I guess, when it’s all said and done, what can I say about middle schoolers? Thank God that he made them weird and curious!