It’s late August and once again it’s butterfly season in Maine. No, not the season for any of the more than 55 species of butterflies that inhabit our great state, but the ones that we feel in our stomach as another school year approaches. These are the butterflies that keep us up at night wondering about those first days of school. Will I have a good class? Will the students like me? Am I prepared? Did I remember to zip up my fly?
Teaching middle school is a great challenge as each fall enthusiastic, energetic, eager, and well-rested budding adolescents arrive to begin a new school year. The students come to us in all shapes and sizes with a myriad of abilities and needs. They are simple, yet complex. Just when we think we know our students, we find out there is so much more to learn about them. Middle school students are truly a wonderful enigma. As middle school educators, we need to understand what it means to be simple, yet complex. We are lucky to work with them but we have an incredible task that takes great skill, great patience, and great humor.
We should expect to bring to our students a firm and professional commitment to their educational, intellectual, and social-emotional well being that will ensure their growth and development toward becoming positive members of our schools and our communities. Teaching is an obligation we have all made. We have all dedicated ourselves to being the best teachers we can be. I am confident we will all succeed in this endeavor. There is so much to be accomplished in all of our schools but there is no better place where it can happen than in our middle schools.
As my mother-in-law, who was a great teacher herself, always said, “If you don’t feel a little nervous before the school year starts, it’s time to retire.” This year, I begin my 38th year in education, and thankfully, I guess I’m ready as I’m still feeling the butterflies.
I wish you all a successful school year. May it be filled with great learning, great patience, and great laughter.
Principal, Middle School of the Kennebunks
President, Maine Association for Middle Level Education