Becoming a Middle School Teacher
Public and private schools across the country are actively looking for enthusiastic, qualified educators to fill a wide range of teaching positions. In fact, as the percentage of the population made up of young children grows, middle school teaching jobs are going to become more and more numerous. Teaching is a wonderfully rewarding career that lets people positively affect the next generation of students. Middle school grades include seventh and eighth. This is a very formative period in a child’s educational experience, so teachers need to be prepared to help each student succeed.
Aspiring teachers as well as teachers who already have some working experience might choose to pursue a degree, certificate, or other training course in middle school education. A teaching middle school career is a challenging and rewarding path that has a lot to offer.
Requirements to Become a Middle School Teacher
The specific requirements associated with being a licensed middle school teacher will vary somewhat from one state to another. However, in general aspiring teachers can expect that these standard requirements will apply:
- A minimum level of education: This minimum might be a bachelor’s degree in a professional teaching program. However, some states require that middle school teachers have earned a master’s degree in education in order to qualify.
- Minimum work experience: Teacher training typically involves a period of student teaching and other practical field experience. This demonstrates that the aspiring educator has the skills required for classroom management and other essential classroom operations. Fulfilling the supervised student teacher hours is usually part of completing a teaching degree or certificate. The number of required hours can vary considerably from one state to another.
- Recommended educational background: Certain degree programs are especially relevant to the skills and background that middle school teachers will require. English, math, history, and science degrees with coursework specifically related to education are among the most frequently recommended educational standards for teachers.
- Certification and/or Licensure: Earning a relevant degree is not usually enough to qualify a person as a teacher. Each state handles the licensing or certification of teachers, so applicants must be prepared to meet whatever requirements the state they are working in has outlined. Licensure requirements can be found online.
In addition to the formal requirements that middle school teachers must meet to be fully authorized to work in education, these instructors will also need some distinct personality traits. Patience, perseverance, social awareness, flexibility, and an engaging way of teaching are all especially useful qualifies for middle school teachers to have. The period between primary and secondary education is very tough on students as they navigate changing social expectations and an increasingly heavy academic load. Teachers also feel the stress, so will have to be adept at managing this complex learning environment.
Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Middle School Education
A bachelor’s degree will usually take around four or five years to complete, though this amount of time depends on a student’s course load. Many online and traditional colleges and universities offer education degrees and may even offer a program specifically for aspiring middle school teachers. Generally speaking, a degree in elementary education is the ideal program for middle school teachers though prospective students should examine the nature of the programs offered by various institutions carefully before making a decision.
This degree will cover many important subjects, such as curricula development, childhood and adolescent development, cross-cultural perspectives in the classroom, and the testing and evaluation of learning methods. All of these courses are intended to provide aspiring teachers with the conceptual tools and practical skills necessary to develop a curriculum for students, select appropriate learning tools and supplementary materials, integrate technology appropriately in the classroom, develop tests and evaluations that reflect student progress, and successfully manage the classroom environment. Middle school teachers may also need to specialize in a subject area; English, earth sciences, and mathematics are some of the most common subject areas.
Students earning a bachelor’s degree in middle school education or in a related program are likely to be required to complete a certain number of supervised teaching hours. These hours allow program participants to practice applying the material covered in their course work. Students will also gain considerable experience by learning directly from working teachers who will act as mentors and guides. Supervised teaching and student teaching hours are among the most valuable and important aspects of earning this degree. These hours have the potential to count towards the practical hours required to receive a teaching license from the state the student is working in.
Earning a Teaching Certificate in Middle School Education
If an established teacher already has a bachelor’s degree in English, education, or another related degree then they might choose to pursue additional training to become qualified to teach another subject or grade level. In this case, a post-baccalaureate certificate might be the best educational course to pursue. Such a certificate program is especially beneficial for working teachers who are not prepared to leave their current position just to go back to school. Becoming qualified to teach another grade expands a teacher’s professional skill set and makes them more competitive in the job market. This additional certification can also count towards the professional development hours that some jobs require.
Not all middle school education certificates are specifically intended for established teachers who already have a bachelor’s degree. Prospective students are encouraged to examine the particulars of each certificate program to determine if they are a good fit for the course. This is true for certificates earned through traditional schools as well as through online colleges and universities. Becoming familiar with the prerequisites will help prospective students select the right certificate course for them.
Earning a Master’s Degree in Middle School Education
The teaching licensure requirements in some states hold that professional educators hold a master’s degree. This is a requirement to seek employment as an educator, so being familiar with a state’s licensing standards is an essential part of the job search.
Earning a master’s degree can take two to three years of additional course work after a bachelor’s degree has been earned. Graduate students are also likely to be required to apply to their desired program. Maintaining a high grade point average as an undergraduate will help make prospective graduate students attractive to the programs they will someday apply to.
The subjects covered in a teacher’s undergraduate education will be examined in greater depth over the course of earning a master’s degree. Often, extended field work in middle school environments is required in order to apply these new skills. Program participants will study target subject areas in even greater depth to gain increased fluency. This will help them share accurate and relevant information with young learners. English, mathematics, art, earth science, physics, history, and political science are just a few of the subject areas that master’s degree programs allow students to specialize in.
Working as a Middle School Teacher
With the right educational background and a little bit of practical work experience to start earning a middle school teacher salary, new teachers can find employment in many different areas of the United States. Seventh and eighth grades are important periods of educational growth for children, so teachers need to be up to the challenges of guiding young minds. There are several paths that prospective teachers can take. Selecting the right traditional or online school is just the first step in becoming a great middle school teacher.