Stuck in the Middle: Danger Zone!
One of the things that the North Saanich staff is committed to this year is maintaining positive relationships with our students. The opportunities for staff to connect with students are limited this year due to us working within cohorts, not yet coaching or sponsoring clubs, and not gathering in our usual weekly assemblies. This has dramatically reduced our ability to connect with students outside our classrooms.
So we are trying to make sure that we maintain, in some capacity, the routines that connect us. Weekly assemblies will now stream live into classrooms at 9:25 Am every Monday. Students and teachers will get an opportunity to share and be seen by others. At our first virtual assembly, our staff helped promote school picture day through a video that showed photos of staff that were taken when they were students in school. Students got to see first hand some staff when they were at their awkward stage in life. Big eighties hair and cautious smiles of youth were flashed across the screen. Sometimes making connections with students requires you to show your own vulnerabilities. Many of our staff definitely did just that by sharing their old school picture.
On the other hand, Mr. Koenig could not find a picture of himself at that age, so he slipped in a picture of Tom Cruise as his own high school picture. When the staff saw the image cross the screen with the iconic face of Tom Cruise with the name Mr. Keonig under it, they all chuckled.
In classrooms, the students' eyes were riveted to the screen, watching their teachers with amusement. When Mr. Koenig's name with Tom Cruise's photo flashed across the screen, One of the boys asked his friend, "Was Mr. Koenig in the army?"
I wanted to say that, "he was in Top Gun and A Few Good Men, so I guess you could say he was in the military," but the student had already moved on to the next photo, and my humour wasn't relevant to his experiences.
As we know, the world has changed. Sometimes remembering the pop culture of our youth helps us better understand today's youth and be empathetic of some of their challenges. Although Tiktok has replaced TV, Schitt's Creek has replaced Friends, and Liam Hemsworth has replaced Tom Cruise, working in a middle school helps keep us current and reminds us of how we felt and behaved at their age. So just because the kids listen to Post Malone and not Kenny Loggins doesn't mean middle schools' challenges have changed much. It is still a time to make new friendships, take some risks and dread having your school picture taken.
So next time you are walking through the 'Danger Zone' at North Saanich, also known as the grade 8 hallway and hear someone say, "Sorry Goose, but it's time to buzz the tower," you know there is supervision in the hallways because the students know references from Top Chef, but not Top Gun.
At North Saanich Middle School, all the staff and students had their pictures taken last week. Hopefully, in 20-30 years our students will dig these photos out of their closets and let the next generation laugh with them as well.