6th Grade for a Day

Have you ever had those moments when you wish you could just relive your childhood? Well, today, I got to put “adulting duty” aside for at least part of the day, to reclaim the joys of being a 6th grade student and IT WAS AWESOME!

You, much like our 6th grade students, may be wondering why I did this. The truth is that as an admissions associate, it is my job to be one of the storytellers of Tatnall. What better way is there to get the story of life in 6th grade than to live it for myself? Thus, this is where my 6th grade journey began.

At 7:30 a.m. I arrived at school and dropped off my things in the office, let my colleagues know I was off to be a 6th grade student for the day, and that is where adulting temporarily ended and being a studious young adult quickly came back to me. Heading into the Beekley Lobby, I was a bit nervous about re-introducing myself to my 6th grade buddy, but she quickly put me at ease and began introducing me to her friends. She even quietly asked me to explain to her friends why I was shadowing with her because she was getting a lot of questions. Before I knew it, 7:45 a.m. came and we headed to the lockers to prepare for our day.

8:00 a.m is the official start of the day in middle school. It was nice to have fifteen minutes to chat with friends, organize the locker, and then head to advisory. Three days a week school begins with Morning Meeting, and two days a week we begin with advisory. Advisory is a little mini family within the large middle school community, where advisors have an opportunity to talk about things like internet safety, keeping lockers neat and organized, and other miscellaneous topics that come up unexpectedly. In my advisory, we spent some time discussing how people deal with grief and how we can show empathy. One of the student’s dogs had recently passed away and the 6th grade class decided to write a card for that student. It was touching to watch the advisory teacher address the concerns of the students in such a caring and thoughtful way and to watch the students empathetically debate the best approach for helping their classmate through this difficult time. 

At 8:15 a.m. we were off to history where students were working on creating posters for the Daisy values, including integrity, empathy, citizenship, and more. The objective was to share how they have demonstrated these values in their personal lives. This activity was a part of a larger project where students had to explore their family history. Often students think of history as memorization of dates and names; however, through these projects, students discovered the importance of connecting with their personal history to better understand the importance of studying world history. 

At 9:05 we journeyed to music class. In middle school students alternate daily between chorus and band. I had the privilege of sitting in on a chorus class, soaking in the music our 6th grade students were working on in preparation for the Winter Concert. From singing in French to chanting “Old King Cole,” it was motivating to see our students dive in with every fiber of their being.

At 10:00 a.m. back at our lockers, we donned our coats and ventured outside for recess. Whether they circled up for some conversation, played on the beloved Gaga court, or headed onto one of our nature paths to build a fort, being outside was truly awesome. It reminded me that in our adult world, going outside for even a short window of time is so healthy for the mind, body, and soul.

At 10:15 a.m. science class and I was welcomed to the world of bugs, bugs, and more bugs! Our students were deeply involved with putting the finishing touches on their bug identification project, though they were very kind to entertain my plethora of questions. Some were beautifying their displays, while others were busy identifying and labeling specimens. Our students certainly took pride in their work and aimed to meet the highest standards of the grading rubric.

11:10 a.m. brought a change of pace with physical education. Unfortunately, my admissions duties pulled me away for a tour, but when I caught up with my 6th grade buddy I was informed that, as usual, it was a fun and engaging class. Students rotate each day between art and PE/Health and they equally look forward to both.

12:00 p.m. is lunchtime! Our 6th grade Hornets took to lunch while I took to emails! However, I must tell you, lunch here at Tatnall is fantastic. Middle School students eat together in Beekley Commons and either bring lunch or purchase lunch from the Tatnall Caffe. Lunchtime provides a welcome mental break for our students and a nice break to socialize and catch up with friends. 

12:30 p.m. is “Read and Review,” a block of time for students to meet in their advisory classroom to study and meet with teachers for extra help. Additionally, Read and Review helps our students prepare for Upper School where they will have to manage their time, be productive in study halls and open periods, and see teachers when they have questions or need additional help.

1:05 p.m. we took our seats in math class and my host took a test. Since it was after the Read and Review period, my host had used the time to study with her classmates and so she was feeling confident. I didn’t want to be a distraction, so I did not attend math. However, it would have been fun to flex my Pre-Algebra thinking and give the test a go!

Before I knew it, 2:00 p.m. arrived and it was the last period of the day. In language arts, we worked together on independent and dependent clauses. It was wonderful to watch students engage with their teacher and one another openly. There was no fear of being wrong, just a genuine desire to want to understand the material. 

Poof, 2:45 p.m came and the academic day was complete. Because the schedule rotates and one period drops off each day, I missed attending world language class today. I’m making a note to visit again when my buddy attends French class. 

As I headed back to my admissions world, our 6th grade students headed to athletic practices, extended day or home. It was an incredible experience to see the life our 6th grade students live each and every day, surrounded by professionals who not only adore them but are fully invested in their growth and development socially, emotionally and academically. Tatnall truly lives its promise of exceptional academics, athletics, and arts in the comfort of a family setting where “all things are (done) in love.”