Ask the 7th Grade Public School Teacher

I previously hosted one “ask the” thread. It was the one about international adoption, though I can’t seem to find it.

With school starting next week and the kids coming back, I though this would be a great opportunity for people to talk to an actual teacher.

I teach 7th Grade English and am in a public school. Very middle class, very standard, very nice, really.

I accept all honest questions, but I don’t really want “hate” questions, if you know what I mean.

Let this thread sink if no one cares. It’s just a thought.

Anyone want to ask anything?

Are there good and bad classes?

Like for example, one year you’ll have a group of kids that just are great/wonderful/on top of it, and then the next year the kids couldn’t find their ass with a map and a flashlight?

My sister (2nd grade teacher) swears this is true…

Hmm- your location looks non-U.S. I taught 8th grade a couple of years. The 7th graders I encountered behaved a lot worse than the 8th or 9th graders did. Where are you, and have you taught other grades?

  1. Yes, we tend to say the water was great in a year with great kids and bad in a year with “bad” kids. 2 years ago(2008-09) was my best year ever.

  2. I teach in the US now, but taught in China for 2 years(2003-2005). Kids are the same. Exactly the same.

Why are kids these days so bad at grammar?

Lots of job openings in your area? I swear, teaching is a good or bad career every other year.

I don’t think they are worse than any other time. The past is never worse than the present; we just use the past to condemn the present.

Your typical grammar and style are worse than many of my kids, actually. I suppose texting/iming has introduced some quirks that didn’t exist previously, though.

Nearly zero job openings. Michigan is one of the best, if not the best, states to teach in. We have extremely difficult requirements to become a teacher, but it can be a good job once you get it.

My son is starting 7th grade this year. What are the top teaching priorities for English for this year in general? What are the key things to keep an eye out for?

fwiw, he is a very smart kid, talks big ideas ;), reads a bit for pleasure, not disciplined about homework but responds to prodding and parent engagement.


  1. If he can read at a 12th grade level, he’ll be fine. Kids really should be reading way above the “grade level” they are in.

  2. In Michigan, it would be assumed that he can write an essay quite well at this point. He should be able to write an interesting and creative essay using pretty much any prompt.

You’re just getting started? We started the 19th of August here in central Illinois. When do you get out?

They changed the law in Michigan that schools start after Labor Day. It lengthens tourism or something.

We get out June 16, 2011.

When I was in school, every single teacher I had, grades 1-8, told us that we were the worst class they had ever had (in behavior, not intelligence). Every single one. I always assumed that all teachers told all their classes that, but then since I’ve been out of school I’ve never met anyone else who was told this by any teacher. Have you ever told a class this? Is this something that teachers normally say, or were we just that bad?

Do the students all have computers at their desks these days?

Did you really assume teachers say that? I have never said that and I know my colleagues would never say that. You must have had some horrible teachers.

The answer is “no”. That is not a tactic and is also unacceptable professionally.

No. They are all pretty well trained on computers, though, especially compared to what I grew up with.

Uh, June 15, actually, if anyone cares.

“Journals” are all the rage around here (south Georgia). Teachers will have a prompt on the board at the start of class such as “What’s your favorite blah blah blah? Why is blah blah your favorite?”
I think such assignments are overly nosy. Do you have your students do this?

I polled my students on this practice, and very few of them liked it. The boys all thought the prompts were biased towards feminine interests. Of course, all the English teachers there were women.

We started here Aug. 11 and are slated to get out May 26, barring any snow days (in Kentucky).

Do you find middle school kids to be difficult? I’ve heard for a long time that it’s the hardest age to teach. Hormones starting, no self-control. It was the most difficult period for me personally; kids were just such beasts to one another then but once we got to high school it seems that cruelty lessened. My children, however, haven’t experienced a lot of trauma through that age.

Thanks for making this thread, Mahaloth! Already some interesting insights being offered and interesting questions being asked.

Like Ellen Cherry, I think middle school is definitely the most difficult age for kids. Do you as a teacher do anything to discourage the bullying and cliqueyness that tends to characterize the middle school experience? Have you ever had a student who you thought was participating in risky behavior (drugs? self-harm?) and if so, to what degree have you gotten or not gotten involved?

Also, are you a ‘homeroom’ teacher or do you teach a particular subject? How many classes of children do you teach and what is the class size?

Grade 7 is when I really started taking an interest in school. It’s when a lot of stuff started coming together for me. I remember learning about the electromagnetic spectrum, magnetism, and electricity. And at that level I really “got” it.

I still remember my grade 7 teacher with fondness. He let me stay after class and play around with electric motors and stuff. He made an impact on my life.

Do you think that 35 years from now some of your students will feel the same?

I just wanted to say that my hat’s off to you. Based on my memory of it, if there was one grade I wouldn’t want to teach, it would be 7th grade. Maybe it was the combination of peer pressure and newly discovered hormones, but I remember the only teachers that maintained even a modicum of control were the sternest. Yep, we probably should have been in cages.