On Wednesday I became a 7th grader for the day. My job as principal surrounds me with 11-14 year olds on a daily basis and I go in and out of classes frequently, interacting with this age group. But I asked myself the question “Can I remember what it was like to spend a whole day as a 12 year old?”
My classes were double Social Studies, French, Maths, English and double Art. The students were wonderful and really took part in the experience by helping me feel welcome in their world. At lunch I went to sit on my own and I was immediately welcomed over to join a table. I played soccer on the field at lunch too and actually,realizing that I hadn’t checked any emails on my phone yet that day, sneaked out my phone to have a look (after having scanned the field for where the teacher on duty was), only to be politely told by another student that I wasn’t supposed to use my phone during the day. I quickly put it back. The only experience at lunch which upset me a little was when another student came up to me on the playground, looked at my jeans and said “those are SO 2010 !”
Something which struck me was the way that teachers managed to bring out different sides of my character and learning styles and those of my classmates during each class. One class was focused on studying sources and learning to take effective notes, sharing ideas with others etc. in a calm and considered way. Another class, where we were encouraged to call out ideas, thoughts and opinions and get into lively debate, equally excited and engaged students. This class had a completely different atmosphere and reinforced my view that we all have SO many ways of expressing ourselves and that no two class environments need to be the same.
I received three homework assignments for that night and worried about having enough time to do complete them all. I desperately wanted to watch the Arsenal-Shalke champions league game on TV (wish I hadn’t now) so was struggling to think how I was going to fit in my homework with after school doctor’s appointment, getting dinner ready, eating and getting my daughter to bed.
By the end of the day I was exhausted and I shared this feeling with another new friend for the day. He simply said “You should try a week of this!”
It was a great experience and one that I am planning to repeat in 6th and 8th grade soon. I really felt a deeper connection to the students than I already had.
By Ben Kestner – Middle School principal