When I was in the sixth grade, the Boston Red Sox played the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.
Brian Kaskie and I were the only real Red Sox fans in the class. When it was all said and done, Mrs. Waggoner, our math and homeroom teacher, bought Brian and me pairs of tube socks with three red bands at the top as consolation prizes when our team finally lost.
Those socks were epic.
I wore them with pride.
I’m pretty sure I took them to college.
In all the years since that fall of 1975, Brian, other classmates and I have talked about those socks more than we’ve talked about the Sox.
All these years later, I think I’ve figured out the real reason – beyond the Red Sox losing the World Series – that I was the recipient of those socks.
In September, I started teaching sixth graders – a first for me.
When I’m dealing with my students, I think of those socks on an almost daily basis – and remember that the sixth grade can be magic. Ask almost anyone and they can tell you something life-defining that happened their sixth grade year.
I try to realize how on-the-cusp my students are. Sometimes my patience wears thin, and I am not the teacher I want to be. But I think of those tube socks and try to be better.
Many sixth graders are at the fork in the road deciding which life route they’re going to take.
Very Robert Frost. At this point, my focus is on the roads in front of the sixth graders. While we spend a lot of time learning about how to make words possessive, reading historical fiction and the things students are supposed to learn in English class, there are other issues to consider as well. The students are the ones dictating the other, more important, issues.
I asked students to list things they wish more adults understood.
Here are a few in their own words:
– I think that adults need to know that some families are in need of food. Us kids know. Sometimes they buy food for us, but they complain if we eat it.
– Smoking is bad.
– We need to stop borrowing money from other countries.
– If you have a friend who just got kicked out their home, let them stay with you for a while until they find a place to stay.
– Stop littering.
– Stop hurting animals.
– Pick up trash on the side of the road.
– Save energy by turning of the water while brushing your teeth.
I’m not sure how much time these students spend in the thick of the issues they brought up. I know enough to know that some of them are hungry, and some of them have never considered picking up trash on the side of the road until the time came to try to make a good impression on the teacher.
Either way, these are not issues I was considering when I was twelve, what about you?