Senior intern evaluates changing middle school dynamics

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Sitting with the other interns at lunch, we are the big kids. We’re the adults, the graduating seniors, the about-to-go-off-to-college-kids. We are surrounded by the middle schoolers, the tweens, the youngsters.

When I walked down the BMS staircase on the first day of my internship I expected everything to be entirely different, but it looked as if time had stood still. Most of my old teachers are still here, the curriculum is relatively the same and the school looks pretty much the same. I instantly had flashbacks of the drama, the awkward stages and the cliques – all the lovely parts of middle school. But, after observing my middle schoolers during my first week of internships, I realized it’s not that much different today. The only major change in the school dynamic is technology.

I attended BMS four long years ago. I had a blue Blitz cell phone, yes that was a real phone name, that had approximately two functions, to call and text my parents. I had it turned off in my locker all day due to school policy, which most everyone followed at the time (something they still enforce today, whether or not it’s followed). Unaware of Snapchat and most forms of social media, I emailed my friends on school computers, passed notes and doodled in notebooks. Things were old-school technologically.

The technological advantages these middle schoolers have far outreach what was offered when I was at BMS. Technology is wired into their brains. Kids are living online and through their devices, a reality my peers and I never knew.

Kids are on the internet. Kids are on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. But, to my surprise, technology hasn’t completely infected these kids’ lives in every aspect. I rarely see students pull out their phones or MacBook Pros in the language arts class I’m interning in until the last bell at 2:45 pm. Then the first after-school Snapchat selfies are sent off to their friends and crushes.

Technology is often times still placed on the backburner, even in such a technology-obsessed environment. In the eighth grade, it’s the Romeo and Juliet unit and they are performing the play with their own masks they crafted themselves and their own original stage directions and dance routines. Their innovation and creativity are encouraged, while their cellphones are tucked away in their lockers. Passion is fostered in the classroom and technology is, for the most part, used in moderation.

Just as when I was a middle schooler, kids will always try to bend the rules, communicate with classmates when they shouldn’t be and cause a little mayhem. Technology is simply their outlet to do so. Sending Snapchats to friends is like emailing or passing notes in class and typing on a computer is like writing in a notebook.

Is middle school really as different as I assumed from when I went just four short years ago? No, not at all. The traditions are kept and the kids are learning just what I learned, carrying on the torch as tech-savvy millennials.

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