Saturday, March 4, 2017

4/31: A Lunchtime Memory #sol17

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the #sol17 challenge! 
"Ms. K, can we play musical chairs?"

I looked up. Six sets of the imploring eyes of seventh grade girls well-versed in pouting tactics stared back at me. 

The bell for lunch in middle school is usually a signal for kids to bolt, eager to escape to the cafeteria for a break from the classroom. Teachers breathe a sigh of relief, relishing the empty classroom in front of them, and sit down for the first time.

That's not the case where I teach. On any given day, you will find a constantly rotating assortment of students eating their lunches in my room. Instead of silence, laughter ricochets off of the walls. Chips are shoved into mouths. Secrets are shared. And the "school persona" that shrouds each of us during the hustle and bustle of every other moment is shrugged off, allowing us to get to know each other without the barrier imposed by our respective roles as students and teacher. 

Lunchtime is pretty casual. As long as people aren't killing each other or starting fires, students have free choice for how they choose to spend their 25 minutes. Some sit in corners with the pillows that are strewn around my room, their noses in books. Others pop in their earbuds and pull up episodes of Grey's Anatomy on their phones. And some, like the silly six in front of me, ask to play musical chairs to the annoyingly catchy songs from the High School Musical soundtrack.

With my blessing, the girls sprang into action. Five chairs were formed into a circle as I plugged my iPhone in, clicked over to Spotify and pulled up their song request (shockingly, HSM wasn't among my recent plays). The first strains of "What Time Is It?" floated out of my mounted speakers, and I shuddered when I realized I knew all of the words.

Chloe, Bella, Nora, Sophie, Gigi and Ella pranced merrily in a circle, kicking their knees up and swinging their arms like they were members of a chorus line. Ella's braids swung to and fro as she marched. Sophie moved a little less vigorously due to the boot encasing her injured foot. Bella looked determined, her face set with a competitive streak I suspected lay underneath her sweet demeanor. A case of the giggles overtook all of them as they rotated around the chairs, waiting for the moment when I would press pause.

And suddenly, there was silence.

Cue a scattering of bodies, butts trying to find a landing spot, arms flailing desperately, the high-pitched squeals native to middle school girls permeating every inch of the room. One girl without a seat, one chair removed, five girls waiting for the next round to begin.

As I started the music, I laughed at the spectacle in front of me, thoroughly enjoying watching these 13-year old girls enjoy the kind of innocent fun that is usually on its way out by the time middle school rolls around. In an age where you're more likely to see teens texting or Snapchatting in their free time, a game of musical chairs is positively refreshing.

The casual observer visiting my class during lunch might call this scene chaotic, but I see beyond the rowdiness and unpredictability. I see memories being made.

Sometimes, the simple moments are the ones that mean the most.


  1. I love this snapshot of your room. A place for kids to be. And laugh. And build relationships and memories! So glad there are middle school teachers like you!

  2. It is the simple moments that matter, but also the fact that you provide a safe space for these pre-teens to shed their middle school skins and just be kids. I also love that you knew all the words to the song!

  3. You are obviously a much loved teacher!