The Teacher in the Middle: Middle School Teacher Education

Taking middle school teacher education classes can help prepare you for a career to teach at the sixth to eight grade level. This is usually the first time that students switch teachers in school. This means teachers do not teach every subject, but instruct in their specialty. So, if you’ve selected the field you’d like to teach in—math, English, history, science, geography, etc., you will also have to determine what education requirements are necessary to be certified to teach in your state.

In addition to obtaining a bachelor’s degree and passing the statewide teacher exam, you’ll have to take several education classes. These might include online course work in instructional technology, educational research, curriculum development and managing a classroom.

Middle School Teacher Degree Information

Middle school teachers perform an important role in our society by teaching and guiding young people into becoming knowledgeable, informed learners. They provide the education needed in grades six through eight to prepare students for the classes they will take in high school. Middle school teachers also provide guidance and assistance to students who may have problems in some of the subjects.

All states require middle school teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree in the content area they will teach, such as math, English, science, history or the arts. Middle school teachers must also go through a teacher training program where they will take education-specific courses that prepare them for the classroom. With the bachelor’s degree and completing a teacher preparation program, students must then pass their state’s certification exams. Usually this means passing the general knowledge exam and the core subject exam to determine if the prospective teacher is prepared to teach. Once these exams are completed, the student is considered a licensed teacher and is ready to go to work.

Online Middle School Teacher Degree

More and more universities and colleges have developed online courses at all degree levels, including doctorate degrees. However, for a teacher, at least during the teacher preparation program, an important part of that training is student teaching, a hands-on based learning method. So, while many courses may be taken online, at least some of the classes may require the traditional, classroom based format.

Bachelor’s

Most people wanting to become middle school teachers obtain a bachelor’s degree in their preferred core subject, with a major in biology or history or English. Often, a minor in education is done at the same time. If the student knows they wish to teach, many degree programs have an added teacher preparation program combined with the bachelor’s degree, which is ideal for prospective teachers.

Master’s

Although a master’s degree in education is not required for middle school teachers, some may wish to get the master’s to further their career objectives. Master’s degree programs in education provide the full panoply of education courses necessary for teaching combined with student teaching. Students will study classroom management, lesson preparation, assessments of student learning, adolescent development and middle school methods.

Alternative Certification Route

People with bachelor’s degrees who later decide they wish to become middle school teachers can look into alternative certification programs, now offered by all the states. These people can sign up for the program and begin teaching right away under the supervision of an experience teacher. While they are teaching with a provisional license, these people will also be taking the education courses they need, either online or on nights and weekends. For people switching careers, say from paramedic to teaching, they can obtain employment teaching while earning the necessary education credits at the same time.

Coursework

Education classes for both bachelor’s and master’s level will include some of the following areas of study:

  • School and society
  • Methods of inclusion
  • History of middle schools
  • Adolescent psychology and development
  • Developmental psychology
  • Middle school assumptions
  • Middle school mission and methods
  • Student assessments
  • The teaching of reading
  • Elementary and secondary literacy

Student teaching is a part of any teacher preparation program. The number of hours spent student teaching will vary by the program, but expect one or two semesters of student teaching.

Career Opportunities

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job opportunities for middle school teachers are increasing about as fast as for other occupations, that is, around 17 percent, growth can be expected because of enrollment increases and student-teacher ratios declining. More growth is expected in the south and west. Some teachers are in greater demand than others. Math and science teachers, for instance, are in greater demand than social studies teachers. Also, special education teachers and teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) are in demand as there is a shortage of these specialties. States with growing populations like Texas, Georgia and Nevada will all need middle school teachers, so being prepared to relocate is a good idea.

Earning Potential

The BLS states that the median salary for middle school teachers is $51,960. The lowest 10 percent are making $35,760, the middle make about $53,130 and the highest 10 percent can make up to $81,620. Years of experience bring higher salaries as well as tenure, or job security. With extra education and certifications, middle school teachers can earn more. If a middle school teacher learns another language, such as Spanish, he can get certification for that language specialty and hike his pay. Regional differences in salary rates for teachers can be a determining factor as well.

Middle School Teacher FAQ

What types of jobs can I expect with a degree as a middle school teacher?

The majority of middle school teachers work regular school hours, and put in extra time during evenings and weekends grading papers and homework and preparing lesson plans. The school year runs for 10 months, leaving two months off in the summer. Teachers also have to earn continuing education credits to hold their license, which involves taking classes, usually online. Unlike elementary school teachers, who must have knowledge of every subject, teachers usually only teach their discipline like math or science.

How long will earning a middle school degree and certification take?

Middle school teachers need to hold a bachelor’s degree and apply to a teacher preparation program. These educational requirements usually take about five years, with passing the state certification after.

Where are the highest paying jobs for middle school teachers?

The highest paying jobs for middle school teachers are on the east and west coast. New York pays the highest salary at $66,220, with Connecticut second at $65,520 and Rhode Island coming in third at $62,010. For the west coast, California comes in fourth on the list paying $61,910 for its middle school teachers. As expected, large metropolitan areas pay higher wages than small, rural school districts.

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