If you’re not yet sure which age group you want to teach, you may ask, “Should I become a middle school teacher?” This depends on a lot of different factors. Below are some smaller questions to ask yourself before you answer the big question of whether or not you should teach middle school.
“Should I become a middle school teacher?” Well, what do you like the most about teaching?
Different age groups require you to do different types of teaching activities. Maybe your favorite things about teaching are keeping young minds and bodies active, and guiding playtime so that it’s a learning experience. Middle school students may be a bit too old for that. And if you like the idea of preparing kids for college and success in the adult world, that’s more of a high school thing than a middle school thing.
But if your favorite part of teaching is helping students start to develop more sophisticated academic skills such as short essay composition or the application of the scientific method, then middle school might be for you.
OK, now what do you think you might dislike the most about teaching?
Now, I’m not trying to be too negative here; just realistic. No matter how much you love any job — teaching included — there will always be aspects of the job that you don’t like so much. If you get exhausted working with highly active, playful children all day, then middle school could be a preferable alternative to elementary school. Similarly, a middle school may be better for you than a high school if you are uncomfortable teaching more advanced, near-university-level material.
On the other hand, if you’re especially reluctant to face rebellious outbursts and unpredictable mood swings from students, then middle school might not be your best option. While students of any age can show rebellion and moodiness, middle school kids are going through the thick of puberty. This can be an especially turbulent time both for kids and for the adults in their lives.
Is there one individual subject area you want to specialize in?
If your answer to this question is a strong “no,” then middle school is not for you. But if you are an math maven, an English geek, a history buff, a science junkie, or a real devotee to some other subject, read on.
In elementary school, most teachers are generalists — homeroom teachers who teach the basics of language arts, math, science, and history to very young learners. In contrast, middle school and high school teachers alike usually teach just one subject. To teach adolescents and teens, you’ll need to focus your current studies and future teaching on one specific content area.
If this sounds good to you, either middle school or high school is the way to go. If you teach middle school, you’ll be introducing adolescents to the basics of your field. In the high school classroom, you’d be helping teenagers develop an adult understanding of your chosen subject. To make a decision, think about which of those sounds the best to you. Then factor in the other differences between middle school and high school teaching.