Teaching middle school is vastly different from educating elementary or even high school students. The best teachers know how to defuse awkward or potentially violent situations, deal with students who are falling behind, and learn to relate to young adults. In middle school, the students are not children; they are budding into young adults who deal with menstruation, defining their sexuality, and sometimes problems at home. Teaching middle school means handling these situations with grace in addition to helping students who are falling behind. Lastly, sometimes it helps to relate to students by knowing popular culture, like young adult bestselling books, to further their education.
In many countries, an abundance of teachers wish to teach either young children or students who are basically adults. Less teachers want to place themselves somewhere in the middle but find themselves there anyway because of convenient job openings. Teaching middle school can mean dealing with a student who received her first period or gracefully accepting the homosexuality of a student who made a public announcement. Sometimes, teaching middle school puts a person in an awkward or heated moment that must be handled according to the school’s policy. Situations like these and much more should be handled with care quickly so the teacher can continue educating the class.
During the first years of education, a child can fall only so far behind. In high school, a student falling very behind on school work sometimes drops out or moves to a school that can care for his or her special needs. On the other hand, middle school education typically moves quickly with plenty of opportunity to fall behind, and dropping out is not an option. People teaching middle school should know their school’s policy on dealing with such students. Occasionally, these students are privately tutored, placed in a different class, or at least given more one-on-one attention in their regular class.
Lastly, it sometimes helps to relate to middle school students to convince them that learning can be fun. For example, when a book report is due, the teacher can suggest books that normally appeal to their age groups. Some headphones and a music device can keep students quiet when their peers are still finishing a test. Keeping up with today’s electronic devices can also help to know when to temporarily take away a device and when a device is actually helping a student take notes or participate in the class in some other way.