Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lessons from Thirty 13-Year-Olds

Today marks my first day of being done with my summer job.  I immediately feel a little sad, and, if I'm honest, a little relieved.  The learning curve has been high.  I have never worked with students that were so poorly behaved.  But, I mean, what was I expecting?  Sunshine and daisies?

These are middle schoolers--in my opinion one of the toughest age-groups to work with.  These are kids from the inner-city.  They bring tough backgrounds and a set of behaviors that they've learned for survival.  This is summer time.  Even the brightest, most zealous student most likely doesn't want to do school during their summer vacation.

I made mistakes.  They tested my patience.  In the end though, I think we both learned a lot this summer.  Here are a few lessons that I learned from the thirty thirteen-year-olds I spent the summer with:

Don't sweat the small stuff.
Kids need to get up and move.
Kids' attention span doesn't last much longer than 30 minutes.
Don't take things personally.
No matter what I do, all of my students are never going to be completely happy.  I'm always going to be met with some complaints and hesitation.
Be more intentional with setting up rules and procedures from the get-go.
Be.  More.  Patient.  (help please, Holy Spirit!)
Teens struggle with identity, and finding personal value in Christ can be huge for this age-group.
Give them choices in order to get buy-in.
Anytime you can incorporate food, do it.
Teenagers are hilarious!

It was rough, but I truly love each one of my students and am grateful that, for better or for worse, we got to spend the summer learning together.

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