Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by hp123, Jan 25, 2007.
Jan 25, 2007
Please tell me about experiences teaching middle school. Pros and cons.
I've got tons of both . . . and they vary from day to day.
For instance, the attitude of the kids can go on the pro and con. Some days they're wonderful. Some days they're awful.
I love teaching middle school, though. I've taught both high and middle school, and I prefer middle school. I never would have imagined that when I first began teaching.
I also think I will prefer middle school.
I hae taught both and I am currently teaching both now. Personally, I prefer high school becuase it allows me to teach mroe than one area of history. For me, I get bored teaching the same things more than twice in one day. In MS, I just taught American History (the same thing to 4 different classes a day) and now in HS I teach Western Civ., AP European History, and American History.
What I like about teaching middle school is that the kids are old enough to reason with. They understand choices and consequences. And I love their personalities and how much they change (hopefully for the better) through the year. They are also able to start thinking abstractly about the academic content which I enjoy. I think I would be bored teaching lower grades.
What I don't like are the parents. They are not ready to let go, think that their kids are angelic geniuses, and still want to be informed of every missing assignment, etc. They don't see anything as the child's fault - if they do poorly on a test, you must have done a poor job teaching it - it couldn't possibly be that their child chose not to pay attention, do the work, or study. Maybe that is just the situation at my school, but it is definitely one of the few things I really dislike about teaching middle school. So far the motto of my first year of teaching is "Parents: A Teacher's Worst Nightmare."
Jan 26, 2007
Yeah, the parent thing is tough. It is, however, better now that we're a 6-8 school. When we were a 7-8 school, I got them right out of elementary and it drove me NUTS. With 75-120 kids EVERY DAY, I can't contact every parent about every grade and every behavior every day. I cannot write the agenda in the child's planner for him/her. I cannot go to a child's locker in the afternoon and make sure he/she has all the stuff needed for that night.
Well, to some extent they are still babies! Its hard as a parent not to keep on top of their stuff. My sister has an 8th grader....and she really wants him to do well. I agree though, they need to learn some responsiblity.
I had a parent write me (and all her son's teachers) last week. She wanted a weekly report from each of us. She wanted an update each time he didn't do his homework or got in trouble for anything.
I have 180 students. All their parents are interested and want their kids to do well.
The adminstration took over. They told mom that she was free to contact the guidance counselor anytime she wanted, and the counselor would in turn get the info from the individual teachers. There are 2 differences: 1) The ball is back in mom's court-- she has to take the initiative, not us. 2) We don't have to get into a lenghty phone call every time her son chooses not to look at his agenda. This is his first year not in a home-school setting, and he is having major adjustment issues. He's a good kid, but just doesn't "get" a lot of the things the others learned long ago. (For example, one day he took out a sandwich and started eating it in the middle of my math class. HOnest. The other kids were speechless!!)
Like most teachers, I'm more than happy to initial an agenda every time a child comes for extra help (where they sign in anyway.) But I can't keep my own records and hers too.
Jan 27, 2007
I've taught 6th grade self-contained, then middle school, and now am in a single grade building where we run similar to a middle school model, with teams, periods, etc. (Yes, a building with 300 6th graders and nothing else - actually, it's really great but to most people it sounds horrid!)
I love Middle School! The kids were developing their personalities - you can reason with them and have great discussions. There is an increased focus on specific curricular areas, but they still have some enthusiasm for learning. Yes, parents are the most difficult part and, as someone said earlier, getting them from self-contained, elementary school classrooms makes it so much harder. Add to that our school has developed such a good repuation in the community that parents who have homeschooled through 5th enroll their kids in 6th at our school.
One thing that saves us HUGE hassles is that our district subscribes to TeacherWeb and we are required to have a web page and regularly post grades online. Having parents have access to grades heads off so many problems because they can check regularly and get a print out of assignments, etc. Too, parents have to take the initiative to do something other than blame the teacher. We use agenda books, etc. and each of us has a stamp for No assignment turned in, so when a student doesn't turn in a paper, their agenda gets stamped. Amazing the reaction at conferences when a parent with a head of steam wants to know why you didn't inform them that little Susie wasn't doing her homework, and you open the agenda book to a sea of stamps.
I never thought I would want to teach middle school, but I absolutely love teaching sixth grade. I think much of what we love doing has to do with what we bring to it. I felt that not only could handle it but would also love it, in part, because I raised my three daughters through those years, two of whom are college graduates/teachers, and the youngest of whom started high school this year.
Middle schoolers are goofy and wonderful and still somewhat open.
Trust your heart and your gut!