Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sixth Graders are Awesome

Today I'm headed to the a local middle school for part two of the journalism workshop I'm teaching there for my graduation project, to a class of twenty-or-so sixth graders. Yesterday they all became reporters, and today they're going to learn about the media. I brought them really professional-looking notepads and boring number two pencils to use to interview each other. I was shocked how excited they were to receive copies of my high school newspaper. I never expected the enthusiasm, although I should have brought more of the issue with the Justin Bieber story in it, apparently.

I made them write news leads about this photo, which got a lot of laughs, and a pretty wide range of creative stories. They demonstrated the worst possible interview, then the best possible interview. I was nervous, because I know all to well what it's like to be on the wrong side of a boring presentation. I've sat for years among apathetic audiences and watched presenters flounder, desperate for some semblance of audience participation. But I hadn't given the sixth graders enough credit.

I guess they just aren't quite as jaded as high school students. In high school, it seems, the kids that are still genuinely excited about learning are few and far between. The middle school kids haven't hit that point yet, and so I had the ideal audience for my workshop. (My mother keeps calling it a "clinic," which makes me feel like I'm applying Neosporin to cuts while teaching journalism...yuck!)

I had a couple of minutes to just sort of converse with the kids as they entered a few at a time to the classroom with their lunches (they got to eat in the classroom, thanks to me, which I'm given to understand is usually against the rules). I admitted that I'd tried to dress like a teacher and asked them if I'd succeeded. One kid said he'd thought I was a substitute, which I took as a "yes."

At the end of the class, one kid asked me how many days I was going to be there. I supposed she may have wanted an estimate on when the torture would end, but based on her expression, I like to think she'd enjoyed the class and wanted to know if I'd be back. Plus, she didn't look totally annoyed when she found out that I would, in fact, be returning.

I left the room on cloud nine. I felt like I was radiating so much happiness that if you'd turned the lights out I would have been glowing. I can't wait for today.


  1. I really thought they were 8th Graders...

  2. Sounds like you were a hit! Where did you get the picture? Doesn't that go with a nursery rhyme? The cow ran away with the... uh.. dolphin?