Education Opinion

The Middle Road Now Taken

By Hanne Denney — July 17, 2007 2 min read
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I am in the middle. I’m in between schools. I am no longer a high school English teacher at Arundel High. I am not yet a middle school Science and Social Studies teacher, but I will be this fall. I’m changing positions – instead of being a three-period-a-day teacher, I’ll co-teach one class and serve as Special Education Department Chair at Southern Middle School in Lothian, Maryland. So I’ll be in the middle of the administration and the faculty, the parents and the students.

It’s the middle of summer, and I’m in the middle of my month of travel. I’ve been to West Virginia, now I’m heading to St. Louis, then it will be a road trip south with my daughter to the Carolinas and Georgia. All fun trips. The only work is the reading I’m bringing along for the car ride.

I’ve just celebrated a family event – my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. I’m the third of four children; basically a middle child. I enjoyed being right in the middle of my family – brother, two sisters, and their spouses and children. It was a blessing to celebrate my parents’ lives by honoring their love.

I’m in the middle between elderly parents and young adult children. I worry about my parents’ financial wellbeing and their health. I worry about my children’s college education bills and whether or not they are taking care of themselves. I want to make sure all four of them, parents and children, are happy and fulfilled. I want them to know I love them, I’m proud of them, and I’m motivated by them.

I’m in the middle of my life (or so I like to think). I’m 48 years old, an older “new” teacher. I just finished my third year of teaching special education at a High School. I am a career-changer. For more on that experience, check the archives of my previous blog “Ready or Not”. I’ve been in the middle between older experienced teachers and young new teachers. I don’t quite fit either group.

Now I’m taking on a new challenge at the middle school. I’m so excited about this change. I’ve been reading about middle school students, and school reform efforts, and even the history of the middle school movement. I myself went to a new middle school in Montgomery County Maryland in 1968. It was a bold experiment in open classrooms, experiential learning with lots of interdisciplinary projects, and cool young teachers who believed they could reach students. For me, it was a very successful experiment, with good results. It did not work for all students, though. I know schools have changed a lot since 1968, but I also know our schools still don’t work for all students.

In this blog I’ll be writing about what I’m learning, and what I’m doing, as I move into middle school. For the next month it’s all about getting ready. I’m on a self-directed learning project to become informed of current research. I’m reading pedagogical essays and teacher memoirs and ethnographic studies of middle schools. I am studying pacing curriculum guides and lesson plans. Most importantly, I’m talking to as many people as possible. I have a lot to learn.

So join me “in the middle” and help me get ready. Tell me what I need to know.

The opinions expressed in In the Middle are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.