March 18, 2015

31 Crazy Ways Your Life Changes When You Move From Teaching Middle School to Elementary

As some of you may know, I taught middle school (science!!) for 7 years, and this year I moved down to second grade.
<Insert 'holy cow' gasp here>
For many many years I often looked upon the lower elementary world as one that was filled with teachers who had clearly lost their minds. I mean, who would EVER want to deal with all of THAT?!  
"No thank you. I'll stick with my hormone-riddled teenagers, thanks."

I don't know where to begin explaining the culture shock that hit on day one - with temper tantrums, pee-pee accidents, and their general all-over-the-placeness. However, now that I'm a good 2/3 of the way through (surviving) my first year in second grade, I can honestly say that I love it!

Does that mean it's always perfectly smooth and my class is full of angels?
But, I AM learning to find the humor in their craziness, and I know that I've become a more compassionate person as a result of my time with these precious kiddos. 

Without further adieu, here are 31 ways your life changes when you move from middle school to elementary:

1. Top of the list has to be the ever impending threat of getting covered in drool.

2. Your voice changes from your normal speaking voice, to some unrecognizable cartoon version of yourself. Think: teacher voice on helium.

3. No one gets your sarcastic comments or jokes. No one. Ever. #crickets

4. Holidays. They were once celebrated by simply drawing a shamrock, a heart, a Christmas tree, a jack-o-lantern, or other holiday insignia on the whiteboard, usually under the date. That's it. Not anymore my friends. NOW, you are expected to throw a full blown party, with treats, decorations, games, goodie bags, parents, the whole nine yards. PLUS, it appears the norm is to ensure that all their work for the week prior to said holiday incorporates holiday appropriate clip art, you know, to make it festive.
Middle School


5. You get called Mom or Momma about 582 times a day.

6. Band-aids have magical healing powers. Able to stop crying at a moment's notice.  
(Especially where there is no real boo-boo.)

7. Which brings me to my next point. There's the crying. So. Much. Crying. All. The. Time. But don't worry, you will quickly become immune to the sound, and tears will have no effect on your emotions. Give it three days.

8. You feel like a famous pop star as you circulate through your classroom. All your students randomly want to hug you or hold your hand in the middle of teaching a lesson - just because you walked by. If you walk by their desk they WILL reach out and try to grab you, much like the way teenage girls would reach out to grab one of the Jonas Brothers.

9. Temper tantrums. (Don't underestimate their power to ruin your beautifully planned lesson.)

10. EVERYTHING becomes a chew toy. You will need to keep all your fancy Flair pens in an undisclosed location.

11. You somehow find yourself knowing all the words to every song from Frozen. (...and you can't decide if you hate yourself for it, or if you secretly love it.)

12. You will be able to turn any lesson into an impromptu song. Often, based on your favorite Frozen tune.

13. Anchor charts for dayzzzz. Not to mention the unspoken pressure to make them 'cute'. Simply jotting down a few ideas on chart paper will not do.
Middle School

14. You find yourself saying things you never imagined would come out of your mouth. 
"Please stop licking your shoe." 
"We don't eat playground mulch." 
"2nd graders don't eat their math test."
"Class, we are going to ignore <child's name> rolling himself up like a burrito in our carpet."
"Just step over that puddle of pee."

15. You can tie shoes and teach at the same time.

16. You become an expert at braiding hair.

17. You know WAY more about the lives of your kids' parents than you ever. wanted. to. know. You will have to pretend that you DON'T know when they come in for a conference. You may want to practice looking people in the eye without giggling, just in case.

18. Pee. Having puddles of urine appear on the floor is "normal". God save us all on the day it's something worse...

19. You may receive chocolate from your student who has clearly been holding it in their warm, sweaty palm for the last 20 minutes. All you can do is accept it, smile, and then lovingly tell them you'll save it for later.

20. Three words: zero social intelligence.

21. Tattling.  

22. Your kids will believe ANYTHING you say! The moon really is made of cheese? Sure! Cows can walk on water? Absolutely! Touching your Elf on the Shelf will take his magic away? Of course!

23. Walking in the hall is a lot like herding cats.

24. You can no longer count the number of times you've watched a kid eat their own boogers on one hand...

25. When you're not looking, pencils fall into some unknown black hole and are never to be seen again.

26. You can count on someone wanting to tell you the longest story ever at exactly the worst possible moment of the day.

27. You swear you must be in your first year of teaching all over again. None of the tricks you used with your middle schoolers has any effect on seven-year-olds. And they can smell fear.

28. When you accidentally make eye contact with a student who should be working quietly, they suddenly think of a question and throw their hand in the air like it's the most important question they've ever had. Then, when you get there, they have to stall while they think of a question to ask you. You're convinced they just like getting you to walk across the room to see how many times you'll do it in one day.

29. Your students will misspell words and write cuss words instead, and you have to pretend like it's not funny so they don't see you laughing at them. Harder than it looks folks.

30. Stuffed animals are the COOLEST! Students will do ANYTHING to hold one. They will ask you a thousand times if they can bring their own from home. And the one time you let your kids bring them in, absolutely NO learning gets done that day. Lesson learned.

31. Last but not least, your kids will think that you are the greatest person alive. They will shower you with love every single day and totally make all the other stuff well worth the trouble. 

I love my crazy little kiddos. :-) 


  1. This is hysterically funny! I laughed so hard throughout the whole piece. I have never taught middle school, although I am certified to do so, but what you wrote is so true of elementary school.

  2. I absolutely ADORE this post! There were so many moments through reading this post where I found myself shaking my head because I could relate! I am so impressed with your creative artistic skills! YOUR TURKEY DOOR and CAUSE AND EFFECT ANCHOR CHARTS ARE AMAZING!!!! You were meant to be in 2nd grade and I LOVE that you realize this newly found love!
    Mrs. Olson’s Lucky Little Learners

    1. Angie, you are just the sweetest!!!

  3. If I hadn't taught second grade for several years, your post would've scared me away! Hilarious!

    1. Lol Nicole!! Right? These are exactly the reasons I was scared to make the move down to lower elementary...but I still love it regardless! :-)

  4. I went from teaching 6th grade Language Arts to Kindergarten. I have never looked back and even have my Masters in Early Childhood. I currently teach 1st and 2nd. Sometimes they feel old. I don't think I will ever go back to middle school. I love this post!

  5. I had to laugh really out loud a few times while reading this. I am teaching third grade after ten years in second and I can tell a huge difference. I cannot begin to imagine what you have been through with the huge change.
    If you need any thing, just hollered. I am here to help with whatever.
    My Second Sense

  6. I returned to Kindergarten after 14 years as a Middle School Social Studies teacher. I love early elementary, but it is infinitely more work than Middle School. I've moved between Middle School and early elementary for my 33 years of teaching, and each age has its benefits. I love the honesty of Kindergartners, I love the fact that they want to hold my hand, but when they swarm me, it can be scary ;) Everything you listed is SO VERY true; but we often have more than pee :)

  7. Tee-hee! I started out teaching kindergarten and then I moved up to second grade. I thought that they were the most independent people on earth! Your post was great! Second grade is the best!
    Second Grade is Out of This World!