Teaching in the middle, intermediate or junior high grades.
Why Teach Middle School?
Middle School is a time of extreme transition and importance in the lives of students. Physical, social, and emotional growth characterize the age, and many students appreciate help to navigating this challenging time--and not just in an academic sense. You may not get the daily hugs that come the way of the elementary school teacher, but the pre-teen and adolescent are looking for someone to help them safely along the way toward adulthood. Or at least to get them to high school. Being a good Middle School teacher is its own reward.
Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grade, helping students build on the fundamentals taught in elementary school and prepare students for high school.
Middle school teachers typically do the following:
- Create lesson plans to teach students a subject
- Assess students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
- Teach lessons they have planned to an entire class or to smaller groups
- Grade students’ assignments and exams
- Communicate with parents or guardians about their child’s progress
- Work with students individually to help them overcome specific learning challenges
- Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
- Develop and enforce classroom rules
- Supervise students outside of the classroom—for example, during lunchtime or detention.
Middle school typically goes from sixth to eighth grades. However, in some school districts, middle school may begin in fourth grade or extend through ninth grade.
In many schools, middle school teachers are responsible for certain subjects. For example, one teacher may teach math to several different classes of students throughout the day. However, other middle school teachers instruct on every subject to a single class.
Teachers use time during the day when they do not have classes to plan lessons, grade assignments, or meet with other teachers and staff.
Some middle schools have English as a second language (ESL) or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teachers who work with students learning the English language. ESL and ESOL teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English language skills and to help the students with assignments for their classes.
Middle school teachers may also work with special education teachers to adapt lessons. In some cases, middle school teachers may co-teach lessons with special education teachers.
Teachers must be comfortable using and learning new technology. With parents, teachers may use text-messaging applications to communicate about students’ assignments and upcoming events. With their students, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information or to expand on a lesson taught in class.
Some middle school teachers coach sports teams and advise student clubs and groups, whose practices and meetings frequently take place before or after school.
How to Become One
Middle school teachers typically must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.
All states require public middle school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many states require middle school teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science. Other states require middle school teachers to major in elementary education.
Middle school teachers typically enroll in their college’s teacher education program, which instructs them on presenting information to students of different abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include a student-teaching program, in which they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting.
For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, click here.
Some states require middle school teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification and obtaining a job.
Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools typically seek middle school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and a major in elementary education or a content area.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified in the specific grade level that they will teach. Those who teach in private schools typically do not need a license. Requirements for certification or licensure vary by state but generally involve the following:
- A bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average
- Completion of a student-teaching program
- Passing a background check
- Passing a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach.
For information about certification requirements in your state, click here.
Teachers are often required to complete professional development classes to keep their license or certification. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification and obtaining a job.
All states offer an alternative route to certification or licensure for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach.
The median annual wage for middle school teachers was $59,660 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $96,280.
Middle school teachers generally work school hours when students are present. They may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. Teachers who coach sports or advise clubs generally do so before or after school. Teachers often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons.
Many teachers work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers work during the summer.
Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.
Employment of middle school teachers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2018 to 2028, slower than the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for middle school teachers, but employment growth will vary by region.
The number of students in public middle schools is expected to increase over the coming decade, and the number of classes needed to accommodate these students is projected to rise. Despite expected increases in enrollment in public schools, employment growth for middle school teachers often depends on state and local government budgets. If state and local governments experience budget deficits, they may increase class size while maintaining or reducing teaching staff levels. Conversely, budget surpluses at the state and local level could lead to additional employment growth for middle school teachers.
Opportunities will vary by region and school setting. There may be better opportunities in urban and rural school districts than in suburban school districts. Flexibility in job location may increase job prospects.1
- U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook
Links and Resources for Middle School/Junior High
Association for Middle Level Education--AMLE is a membership organization dedicated to helping middle school educators reach every student, grow professionally, and create great schools.
American Federation of Teachers--The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for students, their families and communities.
National Education Association--The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.
Middle School Journal https://www.amle.org/ServicesEvents/MiddleSchoolJournal/tabid/175/Default.aspx