As they navigate the halls, they also are navigating hormones, intense social pressures, and constant change.
They are getting to the age where they still know so little, but think they know so much.
Having worked with this age group for the last 7 months, I have a newfound respect for the middle school teachers who were a part of my life. Thank you. (I also wonder how we made it out safely?)
Kidding aside, I have some other reflections after the last half-year in this role. You see, I think these kids DO know a little bit more than most give them credit for. They've taught me a lot in a short amount of time, and I learn something new from them almost daily. Here are 3 truths I've learned from our new teens:
1. We all just want to authentically heard and seen
Today, a student shared a Google doc with me and his other teachers. The title of the document was "hi" and the the description of the document was "wkljasdktjaklt."
I was a bit hesitant - and confused - as to what I was potentially getting myself in to by clicking "open," secretly hoping that a student was not pranking me or spreading a virus. After clicking into the document, there was the following sentence:
"My life is really real suckish i wonder how many teachers will read this put your name below"
So many of the kids in my halls are suffocating. Gasping for air; to be fully seen and authentically heard. Amongst the broken homes and tough after school lives, we have a tribe of children who are hurting.
And it's not just children.
I read somewhere that the homeless say that the worst part of being homeless is not the lack of a bed or money in their wallets, it's that they begin to become invisible. So many people pass them on the street without even acknowledging their existence.
I know there are people in your life who are hurting. Please hear them and see them. Often times, it's the most important thing we can do.
2. The importance of your circle
Speaking of the people in your life, a topic that I speak on frequently is the power of your circle; as well as the power that the people you spend time with has on you personally.
Never has this been more clear in my life than after seeing these young teens transform over the last 7 months. I've seen it go both ways: kids who have been negatively or positively impacted by the other people they are spending time with and how this has changed them over time.
I don't think this can be repeated enough: you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Are they going in the direction that you want to go?
3. Where dreams go to die
I'm passionate about people living out their true lives - chasing the things in life that actually set their souls on fire. I believe that we all have those dreams inside of us that truly make us come alive, and the world needs more people who are alive.
Middle school is an interesting time. I think it's the age where many of these dreams get buried deep inside of us and no longer see the light of day.
While on lunch supervision duty a few weeks back, I heard many students giggling and some where shouting my name. I walked over to the table and one student was holding up his phone and shouted: "Mr. Krause, look at THIS!" It was a YouTube video that another student had created several years ago when he was probably 8 or 9 years old. Everyone at the table was laughing and I looked over to see the creator who was utterly embarrassed; his head buried deep into his hands.
Later I asked the student about what happened. I asked him if he still created videos on YouTube. You can likely guess what his answer was.
Is there a dream in your life that has been buried deep inside of you? Did you begin to listen to all of the reasons why it wasn't reasonable, it didn't make sense, or it would never happen? Was your dream stepped on by shame, or forgotten through ridicule?
It's never too late to get in tune with your heart. Somewhere, that dream is still inside of you. It will take some work, but it's possible to re-tune your ears to hear that ever-soft voice that whispers hope. I hope you begin to uncover it.