Dark Secrets of the Middle School Teacher: No. 1, Grades

It’s the end of the Nine Weeks and time for middle school teachers to act all high school and such, putting little letters into little spreadsheet boxes that will then be collated and sent home to parents.

The entire middle school grading exercise is kinda like kabuki theatre: outdated, stylized and largely incomprehensible.

We teachers use our grading sword as a weapon against middle school….middle schoolosity. Parents perform elaborate dance-drama rituals upon receipt of the grades reflecting a level of importance more along the lines of life v. death rather than middle school “A” v. middle school “F”.

Calls are made, uncomfortable meetings convened, doleful looks abound. Or, in other cases, money changes hands, Ipods are purchased and strangely smug feelings of superiority emerge.

All-in-all an elaborate multi-act ritual signifying nothing. The phrase “Middle School Grades” is right up there with “Political Science Degree” in the running for most ultimately pointless expenditure of time, energy and angst. (note: I have two Political Science degrees).

We teachers know it. Parents know it. And like the non-existence of Santa Claus….students have some glimmer of knowing it as well. Some more than others.

  • What will happen if they “fail”?
  • What really happens if they “fail” all their classes?
  • Will they really repeat the 7th Grade? Will they really?
  • Is it really possible they could end up driving to middle school, spending significant time trimming their moustache on the way, while working nights at Taco Bell to pay for the car insurance?

We readers all know the answer to those questions. Fortunately, zero middle school students read this blog.

The dark secret can remain just hidden enough…if we perform the drama well.

Remember, keep your kabuki mask on and the hideous makeup unblemished. Both will hide your inability to keep a straight face. Be sure the audience continues to look at the sword. Flash the sword menacingly. Catch the light with the sword and blind the audience, if possible. Create the illusion. Cue the unfamiliar discordant music.

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