Middle school/high school comparison in MA

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by cymru3, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. cymru3

    cymru3 Rookie

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    Jan 22, 2016

    I taught in the UK school system (grades 6-12) before moving here, where I've found that secondary education is mostly split up into middle school and high school. I worked as a TA at a high school for a year while I got my license over here, and am currently working in a year long position in another high school. When applying for my current jobs I applied at both middle and high schools as I was unsure which age range I wanted to teach. In the UK I much preferred the younger age range as I hated 'teaching to the test' with all the standardized testing that goes on over there with the older kids. However I've found that it isn't the case here (at least not as much) and so I'm really enjoying my classes.

    In the next few months my job search for September will begin in earnest. I was wondering if anyone could talk me through the major differences between working in a middle school and a high school so that I can decide whether it's worth applying to both middle and high schools again. As I've taught younger students before I'm not concerned about that aspect...more about logistical stuff. For example in the UK I would teach 5 classes a day, all different ages and ability levels. At the high school here I've found that I'm teaching a specific course to multiple classes of the same age and ability level. At a middle school would I be teaching, for example, all grade 6 students? Would the curriculum be mine to plan, or would it be a case of tweaking a course that's already planned out? What are the expectations of kids in terms of homework, testing, etc?

    I know that all schools and all districts are different, however any insights would be appreciated.
     
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  3. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

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    Jan 23, 2016

    I have taught both levels in different states (not MA).

    Scheduling - In HS I taught an alternating block schedule, so I had even and odd day classes. I taught US History (3 sections) and World History (2 sections). Many MS work on a "team teaching" model where there is one teacher per content area on a team, and students rotate between those teachers. Depending on the school, you may only teach one subject and grade level, or you may have 2 grade levels.

    Curriculum & testing - In both levels, curriculum is given to you in most subjects. Most states have some kind of state curriculum that is monitored by benchmark and/or end-of-course testing. The spring is testing season. I don't know what kind of tests MA has, but the load varies greatly by state. In VA, students have benchmark exams every quarter and an EOC exam in May. Starting in third grade, exams are for every subject. In PA, grade 3-8 students are tested in March in ELA, math and science. High school students take another exam after they have taken a course in Algebra, Biology, and grade 11 English. In both states, high school tests determine graduation eligibility.

    I will tell you that, in my experience, teachers are expected to follow state curriculum very closely. Admin wants to go into any 7th grade science class in the entire state on April 21 and see that everybody is learning about biomes, for example. At the same time you need to reteach and differentiate instruction and teach your students with special needs at the same pace as their peers.

    Speaking of, students with special needs are generally integrated into the regular ed classroom. You will usually have one class with a special education co-teacher or an aide for certain students.

    Homework - This is going to vary greatly based on your student population.


    Hopefully I helped. Like I said I don't have any experience in MA and I don't know much about states other than PA and VA, but those are my general observations from my first few years teaching.
     
  4. cymru3

    cymru3 Rookie

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    Jan 23, 2016

    No, that's fantastic and exactly the kind of information I was looking for. Thank you!

    Could I just get some clarification on what you mean by the team model in MS? Do you mean that if, for example, I were the grade 6 teacher for advertising, then by the end of the year all of grade 6 will have rotated through me to do advertising?
     
  5. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

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    Jan 23, 2016

    On each team, there was one Reading, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science teacher. All of them had a group of students in their homeroom, say 25. Those 125 students on that team only had those 5 core teachers. Down the hallway, there was another 7th grade team with a different teacher in Reading, LA, Math, Social Studies and Science. Those teachers only saw their group of 125 students. Because the school was so large, not every 7th grade core teacher taught every 7th grade student.

    However, I attended a very small middle school (140 students in a class) where we basically had two teams of teachers: 7th grade and 8th grade. Only 7th grade homeroom teachers taught 7th grade students and vice versa for 8th grade.

    I have not heard of Advertising as a school subject in public school. That sounds like it would be a high school elective. With special areas (like music, art, health, etc) the students are just put into a class of their grade level, regardless of their team. Special classes are usually once per week for the whole year (that's more an elementary model), or students have different specials each marking period. So first marking period, students might have Computers 5th period and Music 8th period. Second marking period they would have Art in 5th period and Family-Consumer Science in 8th period.
     
  6. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Jan 23, 2016

    I teach high school. I have all the sophomores and some juniors and seniors. The curriculum is entirely mine to plan as long as it fits the standards. That is pretty rare though but it's one reason I love my school. I've never had to teach a book I don't like!
     
  7. cymru3

    cymru3 Rookie

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    Jan 23, 2016

    Thanks both, really helpful!
     

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