Why teach in the middle?

#1 Reason: The Students!

Young adolescents are a unique age group, in the midst of developing their adult identities. It is rewarding to be an important part of this process for them.

Middle school teachers often teach in interdisciplinary teams. Such an organization promotes cooperation and collegiality. It is helpful to work alongside others when planning instruction, developing curriculum, and working with students and their families.

Teaching in a middle school often gives you an opportunity to explore multiple interests of your own. At Appalachian State University, we require our teacher candidates to pursue two concentrations among language arts, math, science, and social studies. Candidates tell us they like this better than having to learn all content areas, a requirement for elementary majors. Also, they like having two rather than one area because it gives them flexibility and prevents the boredom of single-subject concentrations that some high school teachers experience.

Why Choose ASU's Middle Grades Program?

Appalachian State University was the first institution of higher education in North Carolina to offer specialized degrees for middle grades teachers and has a long-standing commitment to excellence in middle level teacher preparation.

It is a small, personal program. Teacher candidates take courses and participate in field experiences together for two semesters in a cohort. All teacher candidates are known well by each other and by the middle grades professors.

Graduates of our program are hired quickly and often receive multiple job offers. ASU was the first university in North Carolina to offer specialized courses and degree programs in middle grades education. Our program is well-respected at the local, state, national, and international levels.

We have many opportunities for leadership locally and nationally, and we have many connections to the North Carolina Middle School Association and the National Middle School Association.

Words from one of our Middle Grades Student Teachers

Middle school students are extremely vulnerable because they are going through a faster rate of change, both physically and emotionally, than any other time in their grade school years. This allows you to really help to shape their future (and yours) by making these positive transitions into early adolescence instead of the traumatic ones they tend to be at times.

You will never be bored with middle school students! They will always keep you laughing!

It is an amazing process to watch these students begin to develop their own sense of morality and responsibility.

Characteristics of Effective Middle Level Teachers:

  • A sense of humor that you share with students regularly
  • Flexibility that you demonstrate in your instructional and curricular planning and delivery
  • The ability to listen actively to your students
  • The ability to show unconditional caring for young adolescent students
  • A contagious passion for learning
  • A willingness to move beyond the boundaries of your subject area training
  • A philosophy and action plan that places students at the center of the learning process
  • A belief in the process of collaborating with students and colleagues regarding instruction and curriculum
  • The confidence to guide students on their path to learning
  • An awareness of adolescent health issues, and a willingness to address these issues with students
  • A strong sense of your own identity
  • A wealth of knowledge about young adolescent development
  • A belief in all students' ability to succeed
  • Knowledge and skills to help all students achieve success

You can review the specific set of requirements for the Middle Grades Education on the Programs of Study page.

Source for Characteristics List: Knowles, T., & Brown, D.F. (2000). What every middle school teachers should know. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.