How to Become a Middle School Teacher
Middle school teachers need good communications skills in order to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.
Middle school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.
All states require public middle school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many states require middle school teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science. Other states require middle school teachers to major in elementary education. Middle school teachers typically enroll in their college’s teacher preparation program and take classes in education and child psychology in addition to the classes required by their major.
Teacher education programs teach prospective middle school teachers how to present information to students and how to work with students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include fieldwork such as student teaching. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit Teach.org.
Some states require middle school teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification.
Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools typically seek middle school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and a major in elementary education or a content area.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified. Those who teach in private schools are not usually required to be licensed. Most states require teachers to pass a background check.
Certification of middle school teachers varies considerably from state to state. In some states, they are certified to teach elementary school grades, which are typically first through sixth grades or first through eighth grades. In other states, they are certified to teach middle school grades, which include sixth through eighth grades. Other states provide middle school teachers with a secondary school or high school certification, which often includes seventh through twelfth grades.
Requirements for certification also vary by state. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, they are also required to complete a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, which is typically gained through student teaching. Some states require a minimum grade point average. States typically require candidates to pass a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach. For information on certification requirements in your state, visit Teach.org.
Teachers are often required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification.
All states offer an alternative route to certification for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either of these programs.
In order to receive certification, teachers need to perform fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching. During student teaching, they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. The amount of time required varies by state.
Communication skills. Teachers must collaborate with other teachers and special education teachers. In addition, they need to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.
Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Middle school teachers must be patient when students struggle with material.
Physical stamina. Working with middle school aged students can be tiring. Teachers need to be able to physically, mentally, and emotionally keep up with the students.
Resourcefulness. Middle school teachers need to be able to explain difficult concepts in terms that students can understand. In addition, they need to be able to get students engaged in learning and adapt lessons to each student’s needs.
Experienced teachers can advance to serve as mentors to newer teachers or to become lead teachers. In these positions, they help less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills.
With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals, both of which generally require additional education in education administration or leadership. For more information, see the profiles on school and career counselors, librarians, instructional coordinators, and elementary, middle, and high school principals.