Three Cheers for Middle School!


       When I interview future mathematics teachers, some embarrassingly say to me, "I actually prefer to teach at the middle school level."  Then they go on to say that their parents and friends think that they are crazy to be a middle school teacher.  This is because so many people have this image of middle-school-aged children as being wild and out of control all of the time.  I hear this so often; sometimes in silly way and sometimes in a very serious way.  As a longtime educator I can tell you that this image is untrue and unfair to young teenagers.

       Middle school is great!  The excitement and energy of the students is part of the reason that middle schools are so great.  Our best middle school teachers understand how to use that energy to engage students and to foster learning.  When middle school students are respected and appropriately challenged academically, they rise to the occasion and show their best everyday.  Middle schools are the places where you have classes with tall girls and short boys; shy kids and talkative kids.  Middle school students are fun and interesting to get to know.  They are excited to leave their elementary school and they are anxious to go to high school.

       We want and we need teachers who understand the middle school child; understand how they think and how they learn.  Teachers who are excited to teach everyday and to help their students to discover their ability to solve problems and to ask difficult questions.  We need teachers to encourage our middle school students to read and to understand more difficult text; including non-fiction text.  Middle school is often the place in which students first encounter difficulty with their academics, so we need teachers who are excited to help these students to preserve through these difficult times and to find ways to succeed.

       I know many middle school teachers who love their job.  These teachers understand the "line" between allowing students to express themselves while keeping the class of students in control.  Middle school students understand the need for structure and appreciate teachers who insist on this structure.  Middle school can be the best years of a student's school career when they have great teachers and leaders who care about them.

       Middle school is a great place to be.  Everyone should appreciate the excitement and energy of our nation's middle schools.


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