Teaching middle school is not for the faint of heart. But if you're called to do it, you know there's nothing else quite like it. Join us in discussing what works - and what doesn't.

From 1st grade to 6th grade, Is the Multiple-Subject credential interchangeable?

Heather Wolpert-Gawron Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

I don't know about how things are feeling in your neck of the woods, but from where I stand, things are a little dark in education-land.

Currently, my district is debating about class size reduction at the elementary schools. What this does, of course, is release some tenured teachers (many of whom have some level of seniority) into the pool of teachers. For middle school, this has a definite effect.

For instance, a person who holds a multiple-subject credential who teaches 1st grade could easily bump a 6th grade teacher because they hold the same credential. As you get into 7th and 8th grades, the credentials change.

But are teachers so interchangeable? Are we not all called to different levels for a reason? Can a teacher who is an expert in primary or elementary pop into a middle school position just like that? Does not each level of education come with its own challenges and expertise?

What's happening in your neck of the woods?

-Heather WG

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Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

The uniqueness of teaching middle school

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I read a book recently called A Room for Learning about a guy who starts a middle school in rural Vermont. He's a bit of an iconoclast and they have no money, so much of the story is about how they pull it together. But he made a toss-off comment about middle schoolers that really blew me away - let me see if I can paraphrase:

Middle schoolers are at a unique period in their lives. They are discovering who they are - what their story is. The entire subtext of middle school is "Who am I? What do I do well? How should I be in the world?" This is such a fragile and crucial part of a human's development, and there are many forces in our culture/world that confound this discovery ... images in media, peers, hormones, etc.

Given this observation, I would say that YES! the challenges of a middle school teacher are completely different than other grades!

Here's another interview with Tal Birdsey, the author of A Room for Learning.
The Art of Teaching Adolescents:

It's a fascinating read.

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Great resource

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Thanks, Betty, for that resource. It's true. And we've talked a bit in another ongoing discussion about the uniqueness of teaching middle school. They are a whole different species, are they not?

Anyway, I wonder if others are experiencing this type of district movement and what it's doing to the schools which are effected?

-Heather WG

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