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In your imaginary award acceptance speech (yes, we know you have one), who’s the very last — and most important — person you thank?

“And to Mrs. Waddelove, goes the Award for patience with middle school boys.” (Applause, hoot-hoot-hoots from the boys, boos and whispering from the giggling girls). Mrs. Waddelove steps forward, and the applause dies down, she stands a second at the podium for effect, then in a swift movement, dons baseball cap with the visor to the side. She steps slightly to the left of the podium (so she can still see her script) and begins her address:

I’m a middle school teacher and I’m glad to say
I arrive at school lookin’ forward to each day,
Not one computer class that I teach will be boring.
Students keep me on my toes with their endless exploring.

Little kids are rambunctious, but want to please.
They ask so many questions, that I get brain freeze
The middle grade kids still want to follow rules,
And try to do their work to using all the tools.

When the big kids stride in and take their place
Chatting and walking at their own sweet pace
I know new plotting is about to begin
Who knows if today is a lose or win.

“Okay, guys” I say, “this is what we’re gonna do,”
And I give the instructions for the assignment that’s due.
Sometimes I feel invisible looking for their eyes,
Like I’m not really there, just a teacher in disguise.

The truth of the matter is that their radar’s set
On social interaction and sharing ingenious wit.
They’ll ask me questions, but there’s another motive:
They want the attention, a stage on which to live.

Their banter is amusing, and their questions so offbeat
Their arguments and reason so contorted it’s a feat
Of tweenage wit and humor, and sassiness that’s not mean,
A chance to show they’re thinking or let themselves be seen.

I could easily laugh at their antics and their humor,
Still I try to keep a straight face for the sake of being sober,
Showing patience and good guidance, modeling good behavior,
But sometimes I laugh before my face cracks under pressure.

So boys, keep that outlook for as long as you can joke
For in the not too far future you’ll be an adult yoke.
Don’t lose your sense of humor, your wit and wily ways!
Imagination is a blessing when matched by respectful ways.

Thank you! It’s been a pleasure. Is my hair grayer than it was at the beginning of he year?