Middle school teachers generally provide instruction to students in grades 6 through 8, although some may be assigned to younger or older students. Regardless of the age of their students, these teachers are responsible for all the following tasks:
- Creating lesson plans that align with school and state education goals.
- Teaching lessons and providing additional instruction to students as needed.
- Grading homework and tests to ensure students understand content.
- Developing a classroom environment conducive to learning.
Unlike many lower elementary teachers who provide instruction in all subjects, a middle school teaching career could have you focusing on a particular area such as math, English or science. Some professionals also specialize in the following ways:
- Special education teachers work with students who need services beyond what is typically offered in the classroom.
- ESL teachers help students for whom English is a second language. They are sometimes called ESOL teachers, which stands for English for speakers of other languages. Learn more about how to become an ESL teacher.
- Fine arts teachers provide instruction in fields such as art, music, band and choir.
- Physical education teachers lead gym class, teach health topics and may be called upon to coach school sports teams.
How to become a middle school teacher
Many states have very specific middle school teacher degree requirements. If you're interested in becoming a middle school teacher, here are the steps you'll likely have to take:
- Enroll in a bachelor's degree program. A four-year degree program is the minimum education for teachers in all states. Depending on where you live, you may have to major in elementary education or a specific content area such as math or science. You may be able to take online courses to earn your middle school teacher degree but ensure the school is approved by your state before enrolling in a distance education program.
- Gain experience through student-teaching. Education degree programs pair students with existing teachers to provide hands-on experience in the classroom.
- Become licensed or certified. All states require public school teachers to be licensed or certified. The requirements for licensure can vary by state but generally include graduating from an approved bachelor's degree program, completing a student-teaching experience, passing a background check and passing a certification exam. Some states may have an alternative certification process for those who have a bachelor's degree in a field outside of education.
- Take continuing education courses: Teachers may have to complete a certain number of professional development classes to maintain or renew their state certification.
Skills and abilities needed for a middle school teacher career
Middle school teachers need to possess the following skills and abilities to do their jobs well:
- Speaking: Middle school teachers spend much of their day speaking to students, parents and other teachers, and they must be comfortable talking about a variety of matters.
- Learning Strategies: Teachers must be able to identify which instructional methods are most appropriate for a particular lesson and group of students.
- Social Perceptiveness: A significant part of a teacher's job is managing student behavior. To do that effectively, they must understand why and how children respond in certain situations.
- Written Comprehension: Teachers may read student assignments, emails from parents and memos from administrators on a daily basis, making written comprehension an important ability in this profession.
- Oral Comprehension: Likewise, teaching involves listening and understanding student questions, parent requests and administrative directives that may be given verbally.
- Speech Clarity: It isn't enough for teachers to be comfortable speaking. They must also be able to talk in such a way as to convey information clearly and concisely.
Career outlook and salary for middle school teachers
Generally, the pay you might expect as a middle school teacher varies by location, experience, and education level. You might see the following job growth outlook and salary in the coming years:
|Annual Mean Wage
|Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education