Why does sixth grade seem to be the “lost” grade. No one seems to know where they fit. Are they elementary students or do they belong in the middle school?
I’m not talking about changing every school’s structure or stating that one way is better than the other, but I do feel this grade level has particular challenges that can only be understood by those who teach (or have children!) at this level.
There may be one student who has obviously gone through puberty and looks as though they should be part of the freshman class. But on the other side of the room, there is another student who could fit in with the third graders in regard to height.
And then there’s the issue of maturity… One student already has senioritis, even though it is painfully obvious that they have an additional six years of schooling left! While across the room, another student laughs at the most immature jokes and prefers to sit with the fourth graders at lunch.
I’m not saying that any of these situations are wrong, but they are the truth. Sixth graders vary so incredibly much that it is hard to figure out where they fit in. Heck, the kids themselves are having a hard time deciphering where they belong. Should they hang out with the elementary 5th graders or do they try to follow the 7th graders around hoping not to look too desperate? Should they follow their own individual style and opinions, or do they try to fit in with what is “cool” to their peers?
Teaching sixth grade has been one of the most challenging aspects of my career. However, I love it! Each day is a new, fresh challenge, and I never know what my day will bring. Every year I get a new group of students who vary greatly in comparison to last year’s class. One class may have academic abilities than span six grade levels (and that’s not even in regards to maturity!), while the next class may all be at basically the same level. Each day is incredibly rewarding and challenging in its own way.
What do you think of 6th grade? Does the thought of teaching this grade level make you want to run the other way screaming? Or are you one of those people who finds yourself incredibly happy helping students at this level find themselves? Please share below!