A middle school teacher typically teach 6th-8th grade students building off the foundations students gain from their elementary school years. They work for public, private, or charter schools, preparing students for high school.
How to Become a Middle School Teacher
A middle school teacher is required to earn a minimum of a Bachelors degree, however some go on to earn a masters degree. To teach middle school, many academic institutions prefer content area degrees. Therefore if you want to teach Science, for example, you should seek a degree in this area. However, it may be helpful to check your state’s requirements because some also accept an Elementary Education degree. Many teacher have earned an Elementary Education degree and minored in the subject matter than wanted to teach in. Pursuing this allows you to get the teaching curriculum, internships, and possible mentors to guide you during a career path. For information on what route is best, go to Teach.org.
In addition to a degree, all states require a teacher certification and license. Requirements vary from state to state. Therefore, research your state’s requirements before completing your college degree. Most require a degree, student teaching, and passing a general education evaluation assessment in the residing state. All require a fee and application process. There are also alternative certification programs that allow candidates to complete training under an experienced teacher. A popular program that supports individuals wanting to seek this is Teach For America.
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Job Description of a Middle School Teacher
Middle school typically consists of is 6th grade to 8th-grade students, though some school districts include 9th graders. Unlike elementary school, students traditionally transition throughout the day in middle school so middle school teachers teach different groups of students throughout the day. Some teachers may teach the same lesson several times a day in one subject matter. Though with the shortage of teachers, some middle school teachers may teach all academic subjects to a single class pending on the school districts funding or requirements.
Also, when middle school teachers are not teaching, they prep lesson plans, grade assignments, or meet with their peers to discuss or develop curriculum. Some schools also require middle school teachers to provide support during recess, lunch, dismissal, or the beginning of the day when students arrive. Middle school teachers also service a variety of students who may need special education or English of a second language support. They help these students with accommodations, individualized education plans, and curriculum modifications. Middle school teachers use or learn new technology for communication, grading, curriculum, smart boards, and school portals that may have assignments, information, and upcoming events. Middle school teachers also have the option to volunteer for additional pay by coaching sports teams, leading student clubs and organizations. These duties usually occur during lunch hours, before, or after school.
Teaching can be demanding and stressful. Teachers are primarily working with teens going through puberty so patience is vital. Understanding outside factors that students deal with can also affect a student’s abilities during the school day. Most middle school teachers only work ten months out of the year and have typical school hours. However, at times these teachers may be required to attend meetings before and after school. Middle School teachers usually have off during holidays, winter break, spring, break, and in the summers. However, there are school districts that have school year-round, which typically consists of 9 weeks of teaching and then three weeks off. School calendars vary from district to district; therefore, go to the local school’s district website for more information.
Interview with a Middle School Teacher
Interviewee: Emma F.
Title: Middle School English Teacher
1. What does a typical day in your profession look like?
Every day, I teach four classes of middle school English as well as one intervention class for struggling readers. My classroom is a very upbeat learning environment; it doesn’t necessarily look like a typical classroom. We work in groups, do hands-on projects, and use multimedia. It is not quiet!
It is also important to know that as a teacher, I deal with so many “non-academic” situations. I also have to be there for students who are dealing with difficult life issues.
I also am in charge of the school yearbook, so I hold meetings after school.
2. What do you enjoy most about your career?
Learning with and teaching my students is so rewarding. Every day is a brand new adventure. Throughout the year, I get to work side-by-side with so many great young people who give me hope for the future.
3. What do you find challenging about your career?
There is a lot of behind the scenes paper work and data collecting that goes along with being a teacher. We work way more than 40 hours a week!
4. What personal characteristics do successful people in your career field possess?
Love working with people, passionate, caring, patient, creativity, good at multi-tasking.
5. What advice would you give others who are interested in pursuing your profession?
No college course or student teaching practicum will really prepare you for what you will experience as a classroom teacher. You learn on the job every single day. It is more difficult than anyone will ever tell you, but it is also more rewarding than you can ever imagine.
For Wages and Growth Rate: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Middle School Teachers.