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How do I Become a Middle School Teacher?

By Charles R. Pearson
Updated May 17, 2024
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In the US, becoming a middle school teacher is similar to becoming a high school teacher. Both aspiring middle and high school teachers must take classes in their subject, as well as teaching, and then acquire a license or teaching credential. Also, future middle school teacher applicants can student teach at high schools and vice versa.

The middle school teacher's story begins in the enrollment office of the department of education at the student's university. The student must eventually choose a subject specialization that is offered at the university such as English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Gym, Music, Art, Band, Home Economics, Shop and sometimes other classes. This is different from the elementary education program for those aspiring to become grade school teachers, who instead have to show basic competency in all subjects.

Generally, the student will pursue a degree in secondary education with a minor in the subject matter of her choice. In many US states, it is also possible to earn subject proficiency with a standardized test, rather than university level coursework.

A future middle school teacher will need to take 3 different types of courses, pass appropriate teacher certification exams and pass a semester of student teaching. They will also often have to observe classrooms several times, attend school board meetings and construct a portfolio. For each of these tasks, the teacher in training will be assisted by their academic adviser dedicated to helping them become an effective teacher.

Teaching students must take core classes, which are typically taken first. Then the they must take education classes, which are taken in tiers, as well as classes related to their specialization. Different education programs offer different courses, though these tiers usually require students passing teacher certification exams, such as the Praxis, before moving on to the next tier.

Specialization classes are a lot of the same classes that those majoring in the particular specialization take. An aspiring middle school teacher can easily acquire a degree in their specialization by attending school an extra year. To make themselves more marketable, students can major in multiple specializations.

A teaching portfolio is also required of an individual who wishes to become a middle school teacher. This will include various documents and other works that the teacher completed. These portfolios are created with an eye towards demonstrating the teacher's proficiency in the field. Papers, lesson plans or electronic files such as slide shows, digital presentations and websites may included in the portfolio.

Student teachers are assigned a classroom in which a licensed teacher is already in the process of teaching. The student teacher observes the classroom and then gradually begins teaching the class under the licensed teacher's guidance. At the end of the semester, the teacher is required to grade the student teacher on performance.

Once the student has passed the final semester of the teaching program, they must fill out appropriate papers and send information such as the Praxis scores. The information required includes proof of a degree, a limited criminal history report and test scores. These are sent to the department of education of her state. Then, the middle school teacher can begin her career in teaching.

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