Middle School Teachers
Degrees and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Bachelor|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||620,900|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.6%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||24,930|
- At least a bachelor's degree is needed.
- Major requirements vary from state to state; some require a major in the future teacher's field of expertise while others require an education major.
- Advancement is contingent on performance, but a master's degree may also be a requirement.
Typical fields of study for teachers include concentrations in the student's content area. In addition, teachers focus on coursework specific to teaching.
What you study:
- Elementary education
- Secondary education
- Child psychology
- Adolescent psychology
A Day in the Life
As a middle school teacher, your day revolves around your students. You'll get to school at least 20 minutes before your students to go over the day's lesson plan and assemble any materials you might need. In some schools, you'll need only one lesson plan because your classes are all on the same coursework; others may require multiple plans to accommodate different grade levels. If you specialize in science education, you may need more preparation time to set up demonstrations.
When the first bell rings to summon students to class, you'll stand at the door and welcome your homeroom students. Your next job is to take attendance once your students are seated. Depending on your school, you might lead the kids in the Pledge of Allegiance or maintain a moment of silence at the beginning of the day. After the principal makes any necessary announcements, your day begins in earnest.
Your specialty determines the course of your school day. For English teachers, classes might include lecturing, in-class reading, writing or working on grammar exercises. If you're a social studies or history teacher, you'll probably spend more of your time lecturing while students take notes. For math and science teachers, a typical day involves a mix of lectures and in-class work. You'll give the students their homework assignments near the end of class.
Your schedule generally leaves you with one class period off near the middle of the day for your lunch, which you'll eat either with students or in the teachers' lounge. You may also have a study hall period during which you can work on tomorrow's lessons while students read or work quietly.
By the time your students' school day is over, you'll have taught anywhere from four to seven classes. Students aren't the only ones with homework; as a middle school teacher, you'll have an average of two hours of additional work to do at home. This work includes developing lesson plans, grading homework and tests, filling out administrative paperwork and preparing any necessary materials.
Certifications and Licensing
Teachers must also be certified, a process that involves taking a test and may include additional coursework for students who graduate with a content area major. The state issues certification, so teachers who move to a new state may need to re-take the battery of tests. In some states, the certification process for students with a bachelor's degree in a content area other than education is slightly different than the procedures for those with education degrees.
Full-time versus part-time:Teaching is typically a full-time job. School hours are non-negotiable; a teacher must be there when the students are. However, most schools are only in session for six or seven hours a day, and teachers can spend the additional hour or two of grading papers and preparing lesson plans whenever they choose. Unlike most other professionals, teachers do not work during the summer. Unless they teach summer school, teachers are off from early June to late August.
Work location:Teachers have traditionally worked exclusively in schools, but a rise in home-schooling has led to more opportunities for accredited teachers to team-teach in non-traditional schoolrooms. For most teachers, though, the classroom remains the primary work site.
These sites offer a wide range of informational topics and resources for those considering a career in the field of early childhood education.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook – This site gives a broad overview of the current state and future outlook for middle school teachers. It summarizes the fundamental information that potential teachers should consider such as salary, job preparation and education.
- U.S. Department of Education – This site is an excellent resource for the latest news about legislation involving teaching and teachers. It can also help prospective teachers find out about financial aid for college and accreditation. Teachers and education students will find classroom resources here. For aspiring middle school teachers, it's a useful resource for understanding the laws and regulations governing the profession.
- National Education Association – With more than 3 million members, the National Education Association is the premier employee organization for teachers at every level. Visitors to the site can explore the Tools and Ideas section to find classroom resources. Full lesson plans are an excellent way for education students to see the inner workings of the profession.
- National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education – With a focus on teacher accreditation, NCATE's site gives students in-depth information about the process of becoming a middle school teacher. The site also includes information on how schools become accredited to administer an education program; while this isn't information every education student needs to know, it provides a fascinating glimpse into what it takes to found an accredited school.