February 20, 2010

Middle School Drama

One of the things I dislike about teaching middle school is that sometimes the teachers start acting like the students they teach.

Although I have come to terms with being a middle school teacher, there are still days I don't know why I would work in an atmosphere I did not enjoy as a teenager. Why would I subject myself to that daily misery?

I have a few friends whom I often remind, "Just because we teach in middle school does not mean we need to act like middle schoolers." Regardless of middle school atmosphere or not, the truth of the matter is that in any workplace, there will always be people who do not get along. As I tell my own students when they have to work together, that's life in the real world. Personally, I try not to get sucked up into drama and disputes (which doesn't mean I don't casually bitch about work like everyone else), but when I have friends who are suffering through disputes and drama, of course, I'm in. Kind of. It's so much like my own adolescence. Sheesh, I hate conflict! I will defend my friends, but I can get along with a lot of different people. And those different people don't always get along.

So what am I to do? I do as little as possible. Sometimes I have to give lip service. Sometimes I try to bring enlightenment to my different friends about the other friends of mine they don't like.

"I just get the vibe that Martha doesn't like me," says Gertrude.

"Why do you say that?" I ask.

"She's always just so cold toward me. Always acts like she doesn't have the time of day for me," confessed Gertrude.

Oh, cripes! Could it be true? My two friends Gertrude and Martha are enemies?

"You know, Martha isn't someone who really dislikes people she doesn't really know that well. She's just kind of shy at times."

Is that a good enough save? What if Martha really doesn't like Gertrude? She doesn't even really know Gertrude! Am I going to soon be eating lunch alone because two of my friends can't get along?

But they do get along. Thank goodness for that. The issue of dislike is probably imagined. Stupid middle school adulthood insecurities.

It's when they don't get along when it's miserable. Who can I talk to? What if they talk about each other to me? Can I remain neutral about the conflict while still being a good friend? If I show too much solidarity with one or the other, will I end up on the outside? You know, like that time in 7th grade when I discovered that a triad of girl besties will only end in tears. Or will it be like high school where I floated from clique to clique, never fitting in anywhere?

My dad would probably say, "Just do your job." Yes, that's the best solution. But should I be anti-social? Be the eccentric teacher down the hallway everybody talks about. I'd like to think that I walk such a line (tightrope?) that few people have much to say about me.

Flying under the radar in neutral territory.
Not as easy as you'd think.