How Do I Become a Middle School Teacher?

If you enjoy working with children, you might wonder how to become a middle school teacher. Middle school teachers educate students in grades six through eight. Because many middle schools adopt a schedule in which students switch classes to learn different subjects from different instructors, middle school teachers must often specialize in a content area, and they may work with several classes of students each day.

Middle school teachers educate students in material that goes beyond the basic curricula students learned in elementary school and which will prepare them for more advanced study in high school. To do this, they develop lesson plans that convey material in an engaging way. Middle school teachers grade students based on their performance on classwork, homework, projects and tests. They must manage the classroom, which may include enforcing school rules and appropriately handling any behavioral problems that arise. During “prep” periods when they have no students to oversee, teachers can prepare for upcoming projects and grade assignments. Teachers often have to complete at least some of their grading outside of school hours.

To begin preparing for a career as a middle school teacher, candidates must first pursue a formal college education themselves. As college students, aspiring teachers often have to take coursework in both teacher education and a content area to fulfill state requirements. For example, an aspiring middle school teacher may major in both elementary education and English, mathematics, history or science. Education courses will cover subjects such as classroom management and child psychology and development. Often, aspiring middle school teachers will have to complete a student teaching requirement to graduate with their bachelor’s degrees.

After earning their undergraduate degrees, aspiring teachers must then meet the license and certification requirements of the state in which they intend to teach. Middle school teacher certifications vary, with some states considering middle school teachers as elementary or secondary school educators and others creating a separate middle school distinction. Acquiring certification and licensure typically requires successful completion of both teaching and content examinations.

Middle school teachers earn a median salary of $51,960 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They can look forward to a positive job outlook, with the BLS anticipated career opportunities for middle school teachers to grow by 17 percent over the 2010 to 2020 decade, slightly faster than the 14 percent job growth expected across all occupations. Teachers also enjoy more time off each year than many other kinds of workers in the private sector. They have many holidays off, and many teachers work a schedule that requires 10 months of work teaching and allows for two months off during the summer. If you have the patience to work with sixth- through eighth-grade students, the instructional skills to make learning interesting and the communication and leadership abilities to manage a classroom, knowing how to become a middle school teacher could be the start of a fulfilling new career in education.

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