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Can you teach an 8th grader?- What it takes to be a secondary teacher

Can You Teach an 8th Grader

Full disclosure: My new obsession/go-to-Netflix-binge is The Great British Baking Show. There are several reasons why I think this show is utter genius.

  1. I learn something new every time I watch. Dough lamination is a thing, choux pastry is not shoe pastry, people like to use passionfruit A LOT, biscuits are cookies, and “I need to get a wiggle on” is my new favorite way to say “I need to hurry it up!”
  2. There is an entire world of baked treats that I didn’t know existed but now must try.
  3. British people do not show emotions.

This last one is the one that really fascinates me. I have seen a guy screw up a cake and toss it “in the bin”, then meet the judges and not even show one ounce of anything but a teensy bit of remorse about throwing it away. I’ve seen women let one tear roll down their cheek when they get eliminated, and then they apologize for getting “so emotional”.


If this show was in America, people would be shanking each other with bread knives and dropping F-bombs like they were going out of style. I, myself, am not the modicum of restraint I should be, and there were times when, if what happened on the show had happened to me, I would have burnt that tent down with a smile on my face.

I started talking about this with two of my awesome fellow teachers, and they decided that I needed to create a show called “Can You Teach an 8th Grader”. This is because they know that I’m a hot mess waiting to boil over, but somehow I keep my wits about me enough to be considered a professional when faced with the array of joys that teenagers bless us with daily. They agreed with my assessment of my behavior if I were to go on The Great British Baking Show, but they said that they knew I would never do that in my classroom.


They’re right.

So how come I can hang with teenagers, when a large majority of the population would rather stick a hot poker in their eye, but I can’t keep it together when anything else in my life goes wrong? Where is the magic switch that doesn’t flip just because I’m in the classroom?

Is it control? Because I have lots of that. I run my classroom efficiently, with high expectations, and I think I do a pretty good job. Maybe that’s the secret. In my classroom, I am in control, whereas on the baking show, I’d be at the mercy of the judges. I’m famous for getting quiet instead of loud, which apparently scares the bejeezus out of many of my students (and my own children as well).

Kermit calm

I think that many teachers would agree that we have a magic in us that makes it possible for us to deal with many things in a way that no one else could. I wish we could actually make this a show and watch as a CEO, a senator, an actress, a police officer, a waiter or waitress, and a retail clerk (just to name a few) handle themselves in a roomful of teenagers. The game would be that they have to stay all day, go to any meeting or duty stations, actually accomplish some assignments, and not leave or scream at the kids. Otherwise they win no money.

I think we’d make money on that deal because I don’t think most people can do what we do.

Prince Calm

As many of us try to survive the last days before holiday break, I think we should all pat ourselves on the back for being the pillars of strength that we are. Give yourself some credit, and make sure you take care of yourself when you’re off so you can come back in 2019 ready to finish out the school year with a bang.

I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy new year! To read more about what teachers do, read my post on the crazy things I’ve seen!