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.

Welcome, Brave Middle School teachers! Introduce yourself...

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

Hey, all you brave tween teachers out there!
Welcome to the Edutopia discussion forum. Please introduce yourself a little before exploring our other discussions.

I am your moderator, Heather Wolpert-Gawron, middle school teacher by day and author/blogger at night. I was a California Regional Teacher of the Year in 2004, a Writing Project Fellow at the University of California at Irvine, and am a member of the Teacher Leaders Network. I'm a frequent contributor to Teacher Magazine and a staff blogger here at Edutopia. I also blog at www.tweenteacher.com. I currently teach 7th and 8th Grade Language Arts as well as 7th/8th Speech & Debate/Podcasting. Multiple-intelligences, differentiated instruction, Writer’s Workshop, student collaboration, student choice, and fluid grouping define much of my classroom instruction.

I look forward to talking about all of these topics and more here in the middle school forum. So please comment a little about who you are, what you're about as a teacher, and what brought you to Edutopia and our middle school forum.

For me, it's all about learning from each of you.

So challenge yourself to participate in the forum: comment, advise, criticize. Allow the Middle School forum here at Edutopia to be your brain spa of sorts. I look forward to meeting you all.

-Heather Wolpert-Gawron

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Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Second Career Teachers

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Howdy James, and welcome to the best faculty lounge around. As a second career teacher, you bring a unique, authentic perspective to the classroom. I, too, am a second career teacher, and I wrote about it in Teacher Magazine last year.

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2008/12/09/11tln_gawron.h20.html

Bring in what you learned from your last job, and thus, make your classroom a unique experience. Welcome to middle school. You will teach, yes, but as you say, you also learn far more from them than you ever imagined.

I know what's it's like to what to know everything, but also know that modeling HOW to learn and HOW to not know everything is a part of what we teach.

Congratulations on making the jump to teaching, on choosing middle school, and on joining Edutopia.

Hope to hear from you soon again.

-Heather WG

Dance teacher in urban public middle school

Thanks for the encouragement, Heather.

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I appreciate your feedback. I love the concept of integrating the teaching of core subjects through the arts, and I'm eager to implement this approach. I'll keep you posted. And, right on to James, Erika, Robin and other teachers who are posting!

Grade 6 Middle School Special Education teacher from South Jersey

Brave Middle School teacher

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Hi everyone,
My name is Diane Van Dyke and I teach in South Jersey in one of our district's two middle schools. When I began teaching students with learning disabilities 15 years ago, I NEVER thought of teaching 12 year-old students. As a grade 6 teacher, I can honestly say that I LOVE teaching middle schoolers.There's always something new everyday and never a dull moment. Now 5 years at the midlle school level, I look forward to learning something new from my students on a daily basis.I'm glad to be a part of the Edutopia community where I can read and learn more about the awesome students you all have under your wing.

6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

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[quote]Hi everyone,

My name is Diane Van Dyke and I teach in South Jersey in one of our district's two middle schools. When I began teaching students with learning disabilities 15 years ago, I NEVER thought of teaching 12 year-old students. As a grade 6 teacher, I can honestly say that I LOVE teaching middle schoolers.There's always something new everyday and never a dull moment. Now 5 years at the midlle school level, I look forward to learning something new from my students on a daily basis.I'm glad to be a part of the Edutopia community where I can read and learn more about the awesome students you all have under your wing.[/quote]

Welcome Diane! I'm also a middle school special education teacher originally from South Jersey! How do you like teaching down there? I'm in Philadelphia now but recently have been considering South Jersey again. I'd love to know your take!

Again, welcome! It's great to see a fellow middle school special ed teacher - the "best" of the "best" in my opinion!

Erika

Hormone Jr. High

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I teach english, history, science, daily skills (read it as homework club), choir, and another section of 8th grade history every day. That is 6 preps. It can be crazy working with these "tweeners". They are not yet adults and still want to be little kids at times. I find that they really desire respect and yet want a solid guidance of discipline that is tempered with the knowledge that love of them as individuals is behind it all.
I just recently finished my first choir concert with a choir of 33 girls and 4 boys. Choir was a challenge every day as some of the girls are so social that between each song the chatting was overpowering. Finally one of the girls spoke about how all this chatting is dis-respectful to me as the teacher and it slowed it down. The concert was a blast for the kids and the parents went nuts. I see no reason we cannot have concerts that are fun to sing and have some acting, dancing, and commentary by these students.
I have never taught anything but middle school especially since as a man the current thought is that all the behavior issues are based in the fact that at my school many of the children have not male figure at home.
I must admit this gets tiring and as a teacher I get weary of being told by counselors that they need a father figure. Easy to say but hard to do in 45 minutes per period. Any one else face this issue? I would really like to meet with others here in the chat site that face it and are successful.
We are a public school that is fed from a military base so many dad's are away on deployment. This is a challenge on top of the fact they are tweeners.
I love teaching and have a lot of fun but it is not the traditional methods that I use. Thanks for posting this website.

Mexican TEFL teacher in Junior High School at Oaxaca, Mexico

I'm a retired civil engineer

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I'm a retired civil engineer and now at 60 I'm teaching English as a foreign language in a Mexican Middle School, it's my seventh year doing this wonderful job!
At the beginning it was hell! I had taught English to adults but teens were so impredictable. Things started changing when I considered my students as human beings with a valuable culture of their own! Once they felt respected, they respected me and we got into a new and lovely relationship. I enjoy my classes now, I love my students energy, spontaneity and freshness, and every class is full of joy! I enjoy reading and learning more about this wonderful activity and I have found here a lot of useful and thoughtful advice! Thanks!

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Welcome Alvaro!

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I love what you said about teens having "a valuable culture of their own." Absolutely true. And once we accept that and buy-in to that, it's so much easier to teach them. Your position sounds fascinating and I hope we can hear from you again real soon.

By the way, there is a teacher in a middle school group looking for ELD resources. Any suggestions?

Take care!
-Heather WG

Education writer, Founder & co-editor of MiddleWeb.com

I love middle school

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I'm a veteran education writer who's spent many years writing about the middle grades, including lots of time in middle schools across the US. I publish a biweekly e-newsletter featuring middle level resources on the Web.

Education writer, Founder & co-editor of MiddleWeb.com

Heather's publishing magic

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Congrats to our moderator Heather for writing one of the most-read articles in Teacher Magazine for 2009. It's titled "Test Prep Magic" and might make an excellent discussion thread come February. ;)

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2009/02/25/022509tln_gawron.h20.html

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Many Thanks John!

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John, Thanks for letting me know the article has helped so many teachers! Incidentally, as many of my blog readers know, I am not one to be modest and I refuse to allow an accomplished teacher go unnoticed. So in the spirit of immodesty, I wanted to let all of our middle school teachers on the forum know that John Norton is the creator and editor of the MiddleWeb site at www.middleweb.com, a great resource for us middle school teachers. He's also a moderator and big mucky-muck for The Teacher Leaders Network, and an all-around great guy.
See, John. You didn't think I was going to let you get away with a little throw away mention and bow-out, now did you?

-Heather WG

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