"What do you like better...elementary or high school?"
Of course, on any given day, I could give you a different answer.
But the truth is that both levels have their merits. As much as
the students are different, they are the same.
Here, let me explain...
In second grade, I constantly strained my neck downward to look them in the eyes. I also did about ten sets of squats all day long.
In high school, I'm constantly stretching my neck and head upward in order to reach their eye level. And by the end of the day, my calves are burning from all the heel raises I do.
In second grade I was the tallest person in the room.
In high school, I'm the shortest person, even with three inch heels that click-clack down the hallways.
In second grade, the kids noticed every wrinkle, zit, or new freckle I developed throughout the year. It was endearing that they paid that close attention to me.
In high school, the kids are smart enough NOT to point out these things at all. They are also educated enough to know that a simple remark about how I blend in with the Seniors in the hall will go a long way.
In second grade, the kids appreciate every sticker earned on their work and adorned their folders with them.
In high school...well...that doesn't change.
In second grade, the kids permeated a distinct smell in my room after recess. It was like a mix of crisp Fall air and sweaty hair.
In high school, the kids fill the building with a musky, bed-head smell. Also, the hall immediately rises ten degrees when the bell rings.
In second grade, the kids don't believe in personal space. The closer to my face, the better. In fact, they would just climb right into my lap to simply ask to use the bathroom.
In high school, the kids don't believe in personal space...but only with each other.
In second grade, if you pass a previous student in the hall, say hello. Loudly. For all to hear. Because they will be FRANTICALLY waving at me and in a strained whisper-scream call out, "MRS. BUGAJ! REMEMBER ME FROM LAST YEAR?!?! HI!!"
In high school, even if I've just left class where I laughed with them and they shared their life long dreams with me...it doesn't matter. Do NOT acknowledge their existence when you see them in the hall. Or raise your hand to wave at them. It apparently is a big NO-NO and unspoken rule. Code Red.
In second grade, if the kids forgot to do their homework, they would not look me in the eye and, if possible, try to distract me from asking about it. They would pull out their scissors and eclectic collection of erasers to throw me off the scent.
In high school...well...yep...pretty much the same deal. Except replace scissors with iPhone.
In second grade, they thrived on my enthusiasm, reacted to my moods, and knew when I needed a laugh.
In high school *I* thrive on their enthusiasm, react to their moods and know when they need a laugh.
One thing is for sure. In both these areas of teaching, you share in experiencing their "ah ha" moments, their frustrations, their accomplishments and their fears. You share in building their confidence, their knowledge and their trust. You share in finding their passion, their happiness and their pride. You share in helping each other grow.
Because the truth is, no matter what age you teach, you
learn just as much from them as they learn from you.