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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What's So Unique About Teaching Middle Schoolers?

What's So Unique About Teaching Middle Schoolers?

Related Tags: 6-8 Middle School
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OK, so every middle school teacher that I've known has fallen into their current position. In other words, teaching middle schoolers rarely calls to new teachers so much as they discover how awesome it is.

What's so great about them, after all? Well, I've always said that Middle schoolers are ready to talk and ponder about the big issues, yet still yell, ‘Crayons!’ when the blessed colored wax sticks appear on their desk. Teaching middle schoolers is like working with a herd of wild fillies. You have to rein ‘em in and give them slack, rein ‘em in and give them slack. It’s harder to find a sub in middle schools then in any other grade level. Why? Because they’re crazy. And I love ‘em.

But why? I mean, they really are chemically crazy. They're wired for it. It's in their middle school DNA.

So why is it that we all love teaching this level? And what makes tweens and teens unique to teach in the educational world?

Come, join the discussion!

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Teresa Higgins's picture

I am a new teacher of middle school students after being retired for 3 years. After teaching elementary school for 27 years I have to say that I am amazed at how much I like these 7th graders! They challenge and reward me in ways I never dreamed they would! If I had known daily association with my 7th grade math students would be like this, I would have "made the switch" years ago. They make me want to be the best teacher for them that I can be. I have become the sponge for innovative ideas that they are. What an eye opener!

Travis A. Henry's picture

I have been teaching middle schoolers for almost 13 years, and they are the most unique age to teach. They are still fascinated about the things around them, yet they come up with such intriguing ideas and thoughts!! As a music teacher, I also realize that middle school students are the foundation for our successful HS band programs across the country. Discovering through music has been a wonderful experience with my middle school students!! They are sponges!!

Travis A. Henry
River Ridge MS
New Port Richey, FL

Travis A. Henry's picture

I have been teaching middle school general music and band for 13 years, and my kids are wonderful! They are naturally playful, and they get so excited when they discover new things. I know that my work shapes their future growth in music at the high school level. I love seeing their brains work when they try to figure out things, and their smiles are the best!! I love middle school teaching!!

David Campbell's picture

I am a new graduate from SUNY Cortland. I am in the process of trying to find a physical education teaching position. I have spent my time substitute teaching and I cannot tell you how enjoyable it is to work with middle school students. The greatest thing about middle school students is that they are in between the stage of being in awe of everything and being too cool for school. Middle school students are a creative bunch and are willing to open themselves up to the world that stands before them. I was asked one time if I could teach any grade level what would it be? My favorite grade level has always been middle school because of the surprises that are hiding behind every door.

David Campbell's picture

Middle school students are an undiscovered world by many educators. I am a recent graduate of SUNY cortland and have always enjoyed working with middle school students. They are willing to open themselves up to the world before them and say what they are truly feeling. The changes that stand before them seem monumental in their own minds. It is a pleasure to work with this age group and makes every day very exciting.

Kelly Key's picture
Kelly Key
First grade teacher from Parker, Colorado

Thinking of making the transition to middle school. Thanks for the inspiration!!

Katie Bess's picture

Middle school students are the biggest challenge that most teachers will come across. They are in an ever changing phase where one minute they are happy and the next they are sad. These students have so many changes going on and are learning so many new things that they need good teachers to guide them in the right direction. They are at a very influential time in their life and it is when we can strike their interest in a subject or in learning so that they can continue to enjoy their school career.

shanebravo's picture
In the world the parent-child relationship is one of the longest lasting so

The middle school teaching is unique because this base of kids learning so the teacher is uses the different unique style to learn with kids. The first things are there are so numerous changes they are experience and the extra understanding you can be the better. The teachers are encouraged class discussion and participation. And the middle scholars need to feel safe and care for still though they want their self-determination. The most interesting things is we like the fact that students can communicate with each other in a comparatively safe environment.

Things to do with Children

Lori McMullen's picture
Lori McMullen
Eighth grade teacher from Truckee, California

I too started my career in middle school 14 years ago. Where else do students; stand up to a teacher (in a good way), understand your sarcasm and/or adult humor, and are trying on their future selves? Yes, it is trying at times...helicopter parents, hormones, and attitude - I wouldn't trade it for anything. Besides, I love the look on peoples' faces when I tell them I teach 8th grade. It is so often followed by, "yeah, I sure gave my teachers a run for their money!" Yep - I know that kid! What fun!!!!

Todd Sentell's picture
Todd Sentell
Author of the hilarious schoolhouse memoir, "Can't Wait to Get There. Can't Wait to Leave"

Fifty kids are sitting quietly in their chairs at the place they'll come back to after they go get their food. Standing around the great room behind them are the teachers and a few parents who came in to help get everything set up and the food served and the whole thing cleaned up later.

The principal of the middle school asked each kid to tell everyone what they were thankful for and then the next kid would do it until everyone was finished. Even the parents and the teachers would say something. Then we could eat.

Standing next to me was Marie's dad and her mother was on my right. When the time to speak got to Marie, she said in a good loud voice that she was thankful for everything in her life.

Before Marie, most kids said they were thankful for their video games.

Next to me, I heard Marie's father make a soft, moaning noise in his chest. It's the sound you make to yourself that comes naturally--when you're overcome with deep sweet emotion for your child.


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