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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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Tracy Schutz's picture

Hi everyone...
I am one of the few that started in middle school and am still here 14 years later. It is definitely a love/hate relationship sometimes, but you come to appreciate their quirkiness. Children at this age are coming into their own, finding themselves, and attempting the use of humor with adults. I enjoy watching them mature and their constant battle with their need for independence. It is an extremely social age and that's fun when it comes to group work and projects in the classroom.

Tracy Schutz's picture

What types of lessons to do teach while out in the garden? I think this is a fabulous idea for this age group who likes to move! I'm just trying to imagine how it would all play out and what types of students you teach...?

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

In my travels around our Community as a co-teacher, I'm used to kids not really paying me much attention. They say a weak, "Hi" or sometimes they will get annoyed if I'm trying to help them - heaven forbid! I float in and out of their rooms. They know I'm there, know I'm coming, know they can ask me anything yet rarely do.

I was out for 4 days - sick Wednesday through Friday and at a training on Monday. To my shock and delight, student after student, smiles firmly fixed to their otherwise mopey faces, make it a point to come up to me and say, "You're back! Where were you!"

Just one of the many reasons I LOVE teaching middle school!

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture

Love them, definitely. Sure, they drive us crazy, but by tapping into our own memories of who were were in middle schools, we can appreciate them and love 'em. Sometimes their motivations and actions take translations on our parts, but there's always a method to their madness.

-Heather WG

Carol Parker's picture
Carol Parker
7/8 Drama, Film, Honors & Regular Language Arts

All of your comments are so wonderful and what great laughter you bring! Most of my students have been just wonderful people. So polite and sweet. The sweetest!!!

Yes, hormone heaven...or hell. But, a great age.

I feel I have a great and lasting impression teaching storytelling through the ARTS! And, they really do love learning through the arts, even tho they do not always show it ...no they rarely show it, but that's ok cuz I never expect it!!

Tracy, you are so correct, it is a LOVE/HATE because some days it can be so difficult with very difficult and defiant bullying children. BUT, 98% of the time it is a joy to impart knowlege and fun and watch them OPEN THEIR MINDS and THEIR EYES and SHOW THEM BEAUTY!!!

HINT: Grade 8
JUST show the film "LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL"!!!
I give them a pre-teach and tell them " We are going on a trip, I am showing you a foreign film, it is going to be a fabulous experience, it is a really great gift I am going to give you that you will have forever." THEY LOVE IT. I show it after I teach THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK

Grade 7
I show "The Boy in Stripped Pajamas"
This is a marvelous film. They ask to see it again and again and again.

I find how wonderful it is to connect pain to the arts and show them what beauty is. It is a reward beyond anything I have ever received in education. Their silent reaction when the films end, their faces, say it all.

Children learning compassion and empathy, and connecting the big red dots is a great part of teaching 7 and 8 grade.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron's picture

Love/Hate is exactly their existence too, is it not?

Some watch the History Channel, some watch Disney Channel.

Some are preparing for the high school college entrance exams, and some still need parents to watch them put their homework into their back packs at the door.

Tweens and middle schoolers are, by definition, living in both worlds at any given time.

Thanks for the energy and for the comment!

-Heather WG

Mrs. W's picture
Mrs. W
5-8 Language Arts and History Teacher

I did my student teaching in 6th grade, subbed all grades, and middle school was always my favorite. I worked with k-3 special education for the past 5 years, and I am excited next year to be teaching middle schoo again, 7/8 graders.

They area challege, but so much fun. I've spent to much time in elementary school wiping noses, cleaning up throw up, speaking in simple sentances, and playing all the time. Middle school students are finding their place in the world. They have fun with art and gym yet you can have an intelegent debate with them. They like to experience things for themselves.

Traci H.'s picture
Traci H.
Middle Social Studies and Whatever Else

[quote]Love/Hate is exactly their existence too, is it not?

Some watch the History Channel, some watch Disney Channel.

Some are preparing for the high school college entrance exams, and some still need parents to watch them put their homework into their back packs at the door.

-Heather WG[/quote]

This is exactly my observations as well. They are such a diverse group. This is the middle of school. Many don't know if they're adults or children. Teaching 6th to 8th, I just had my first class to graduate 8th that were MY 6th graders. I loved watching them grow up and mature into very impressive young adults. I taught 2nd, 4th, and 5th prior to Middle School and only took the job because I had no other options. Now, three years later, I can't imagine being anywhere else.

Pam Mendelson's picture

When asked this question from people outside education I have always said they are incredibly loyal and if they like you they actually help with classroom management. They also still love learning for learnings sake and while they may be concerned about grades it is not the end all be all as it is for some high school students. They are naturally curious and so teaching science is so much fun because I can hardly keep up with their questions. They also have an enthusiasm about life that is contagious and help keep me young.

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