I was recently engrossed in a National Geographic magazine about exploration. In the course of a few thousand words and pictures, I journeyed with some of the bravest, most outrageous, most resourceful explorers in history, and wondered how it would feel to leave my students and classroom behind in the name of adventure. It’s unthinkable, leaving the classroom, so here I am, exploring the world through words and pictures. I brought the magazine into my classroom excited about sharing my imaginative journey with the kids, only to have students flip quickly through the photos, eyes glazing over at the density and length of the articles. “There’s too much reading Ms. Jenson,” was a too frequent opinion. It wasn’t until I began talking with them, one on one, that I had a few students hooked, and then the excitement spread. Hidden tribes of the Amazon? Cool. A guy who bit off his own frost-bitten finger? “Where’s it say that? Can I read it? That’s so gross. Hey, Patrick, come here and see!!” “OMG, Ms. Jenson, did you see...?”
This is what I love about my job, despite the challenges that often come with spending all day in the adolescent swamp that is middle school. When I get to talk to the students, when I get to share bits of the larger world with them, that’s when my job is amazing. Hearing their thoughts on everything from One Direction (squee!) to space exploration, the fairness dress code to Federal immigration policy, the personalities and hearts of our students are what keep me coming to work every day. Not a class goes by where I’m not delighted, shocked, or surprised by one of the 175 young minds who I spend time with each day.
When the idea for this blog was presented to me, I was hesitant. Do I have enough to say about education that is original, inspiring, and witty? No. No, I do not. But they do. The students, staff, and parents of Crittenden Middle School are thoughtful and inspiring. We will be sharing this space with all of the stakeholders in our Panther community. I would like it to be a place where Crittenden Panthers of all ages can write about issues or ideas that are important to them - whether they be silly or serious - and have a response from the community that validates that they are here, they are heard, and they are valued for who they are.
After reading about settling other planets, a student asked me if I would ever consider space travel. I instantly replied that I would like a position aboard the USS Enterprise, under Captain Picard. Slightly confused, the student asked, “But what would you do on a spaceship? You’re all about books and writing stuff.” “That’s easy,” I said. “Being in space, on a spaceship, would be a-mazing. New planets, new species, new ideas. But what job could I do there? I couldn’t leave all of you. I’d teach.”