Having never taught sixth grade before, about the only thing I really know about sixth graders is that they're shorter, for the most part, than my seventh graders.
I figured they were a little more immature, a little more sweet, and a little more nervous than the jaded bunch of seventh graders I see every year.
Are they ever different.
Since we're doing electronic attendance every period this year - sigh - the first thing we do when class starts is attendance. And of course, since we don't know each other, this involves saying "here" and raising their hands so I can physically see them when I call their name. I do a big production out of asking them to raise their hand high - "be proud of your name!" - when I call so I can actually see it.
Seventh graders, for the most part, sort of mumble, if they answer at all, and then you're lucky to get a hand that's higher than shoulder height. It's like they can't be bothered to put forth the effort. Half the time I have to call a name several times before I can determine that the kid, really and truly, is sitting in my room.
Sixth graders, on the other hand, are like a bunch of perky little cheerleaders - boys and girls alike - popping those hands up towards the ceiling and chirping "here!" with so much enthusiasm that I'm almost overwhelmed. Attendance with these kids is a breeze.
However, the one thing that no one warned me about, and which really surprised me is that sixth graders apparently feel the need to hug you goodbye when you dismiss class. I thought maybe after my very brief second period (my first bunch of sixies) that it was just that particular group of kids. I dismissed them and about half a dozen of them, boys and girls alike, came over to give me a hug and go on their way. Nothing intense, just little shoulder hugs and off they went. Okay, that was weird. But then my seventh period sixies did the same thing!
What the heck?
I mentioned this to The Principal and she started laughing. "Oh, they do that! You'll just have to get used to it. They think you're their school mamma and since you teach science, they also think you're a rock star!" (I didn't pursue that last comment...)
So, perhaps I'm liking my schedule better than I thought. I sort of wanted my sixth grade classes closer together in the day (preferably back to back) because of lab preps and the like. However, starting the day with sweet nice kids and ending the day with sweet nice kids, isn't a bad way to go.
I just wish it wasn't such a tongue twister. Saying "I teach sixth, second and seventh," is a bit of a challenge.