I've posted before about how sometimes working in a junior high forces me to enforce rules simply because kids have to receive more privileges as they get older. I buy into this philosophy most of the time, but when my students are so thoughtfully considering their research topics and writing contemplative essays about how their thoughts and opinions have changed, it can be difficult to see them as beings that need to be "controlled."
Don't get me wrong: sometimes they do. (For example, after school I witnessed two separate groups of seventh-grade boys in track sweats attempting to run down the hallways as fast as they could while carrying high-jump mats in from outside--as a group. I just spent ten minutes trying to find an image online that can do this madness justice, but apparently people are too terrified to grab a camera in moments like this.)
Anyway, I digress. Two stories in one today.
I was to review before-school procedures today. It's rather complicated. We don't have supervision in the halls, so students are supposed to get a pass to check out of the cafeteria or gym if they want to see a teacher before 8:05. If they are found in the hallways without a pass, they will be immediately escorted to the morning detention room. To be honest, the system now is better than the system used to be. Without passes, you couldn't tell if a kid had checked out of the cafeteria or not, so people that generally trusted kids they didn't know didn't do anything to kids who appeared to be on their way to see a teacher, and teachers that don't... well, those kids ended up in morning detention.
The sweet moment of reviewing these expectations came from the vast number of questions my students had when I was done with my speech. "If we need to drop a band instrument off, should we do it before or after we see a teacher?"
"Can we stop at our lockers before we go see a teacher?"
"What if the teacher isn't in their room? How do we get back to the cafeteria?"
I had to laugh at our work on figuring out ways to "get back" to the cafeteria as if it were across hot lava.
You might think my kids were dreaming up ridiculous scenarios to waste class time. (Well, maybe just a tiny little bit. I'm working on convincing them I wasn't born yesterday.) They were, for the most part, genuinely deeply concerned about how they could not get in trouble, how they could do the right thing. And that is refreshing.