5 Students You Meet In A Middle School Classroom, As Told By A 20-Something Substitute Teacher


Middle school is like jungle filled with overactive hormones, acne, and awkward encounters. As a twenty something substitute, walking into the jungle of the middle school classroom always results in a story of some kind. It’s completely unpredictable what kind of one-liners are going to come out of their unfiltered mouths, but one thing that holds true are the five types of students you find in the middle school classroom:

1. 13-going-on-30 boy:

He’s usually the first one you’ll meet. He’ll march right up and make his presence known. Usually this introduction happens in the form of an attempted pick-up line, compliment, or a hug (yes, I’ve had middle school boys attempt the overly friendly hug which resulted in my personal “high-fives, no hugs” policy.)  13-going-on-30 boy likes to think he has a chance at impressing you so he’ll say things like “You look beautiful today” or “That necklace is lovely” (no teenage boy uses the word lovely in their every day vocabulary, let alone compliments a woman’s accessories). Other comments include but are not limited to “What’s your age limit?”, “Miss. Substitute, you’re my girlfriend!” (Yes, that happened and it was a statement not a question. To which I responded, “don’t embarrass yourself.”).  “You’re my favorite substitute. I wish you were our real teacher so I could see you every day.” 13-going-on-30 boy is a little too big for his britches at this point but I suppose you have to give him points for boldness (I don’t know many guys my own age that would have that kind of confidence or boldness). At the end of the day they provide some serious entertainment and receive the same “boys, keep your eyes on girls your own age” speech.

2. Negative Nancy

Notice I did not include a masculine equivalent because in my experience I have only encountered negative girls in the middle school classroom. Now, I can’t really blame them, having been there myself many years ago. They’ve got a lot to deal with — puberty, body changes, and immature boys. I mean that’s a lot for anyone to deal with at age 13, but it’s still not an excuse to take it out on the world around you as intensely as they do. The negative Nancy will make remarks like, “Why do I have to do this?, “This is so dumb!”, “I hate (insert anything/everything here),” and she’ll respond to anything you say in a condescending tone (and, in some cases mock you. Yes, I have had a sassy 8th grade negative Nancy mock me before). Luckily these negative Nancy types do not make up the majority, and are usually drowned out by the rest of the students in the room.

3. Fan Girl

In contrast to the negative Nancy are the fan girls. Now I’m not quite sure if these students exist in every classroom, or if they are a phenomenon I experience being that I am fresh out of college — and someone that the young girls can look of to as a role model of sorts, However, it’s an interesting phenomenon none the less. The fan girl, much like the 13 going on 30 boy, will reveal her MO rather quickly. They’re the ones who will hang on your every word, wanting to know your whole life’s story, where you shop, what you like to do, and what your boyfriend looks like (I don’t actually have a boyfriend which always shocks them). You’ll catch the fan girls saying things like “Can we take a selfie with you?!”, “I love that dress!”, “Can I have your face?” (That last one is the weirdest question/compliment I’ve received to date). It’s nice to meet the fan girls, because as a substitute it’s always a challenge to reach students and make and impact in their lives. The fan girls remind me that someone is always looking up to you and really inspire me to be a better person each day.

4. Goody two-shoes

The straight edge goody two-shoes students are the ones who will ask a million questions about the assignment to ensure that they’re right. They’ll be in a corner on the verge of a nervous breakdown if it’s test day, and panicking about their GPA (if I recall I wasn’t even aware of what a GPA was in the 6th grade). They are the worriers. They can be heard saying things like “OMG what did you get for number 9?!”, “No, That’s not right! That’s not what I got!”, “If I don’t get an A, I won’t get a 4.0 and if I don’t get a 4.0 I’ll fail high school and if I fail high school, I won’t get into college, and if I don’t get into college I’ll end up on the streets!” These students are walking coronaries waiting to happen, emitting stress everywhere they go. It’s hard to reassure these students that everything will be okay.

5. Drama Queen 

Much like the negative Nancy, the drama queen only comes in the female form. Middle school boys are much too busy laughing at their own immaturity to be worrying about drama. The drama queen can be spotted gabbing to anyone who will listen. They’re usually not much too interested in school work, they’re the ones trying to make themselves appear to be working on an assignment when in reality they’re either texting or writing an old school note gathering the latest gossip, so she can dish it out with her own twist. She can be heard saying things like “OMG they’re going out?!”, “Did you hear… (insert something that will be completely irrelevant exactly ten minutes after it’s told.)” The drama queens do whatever they can to mask their own insecurities.

When the last bell rings at the end of the day, there’s always at least one outrageous story to share after being surrounded by these one of a kind humans we call middle schoolers.