Becoming a Teacher: Middle School or Junior High School (page 2)
The middle level teaching certification and/or licenses cover grades between 4 and 9. The exact grades covered vary from state to state, as seen in the table.
Traditionally, students entered the junior high school after grade 6 to complete grades 7 and 8, and sometimes 9; and the junior high school was a small version of the high school. Students followed a schedule and subject matter similar to those of the high school. The newer middle school concept has been adopted in many districts. Middle schools usually house grades 6–8 (sometimes 9) and are organized on the belief that students in these grades are unique and need opportunities, beyond purely academic pursuits, to explore vocational and avocational interests. Students are offered "exploratories" that expose them to many interesting intellectual or social/emotional activities. Middle school schedules often are built on blocks of time that can be manipulated to provide longer periods for certain activities during the school day. Additionally, teachers are organized into teams, so a group of students shares the same teachers in the core curriculum areas. The team teachers meet periodically to discuss the intellectual, emotional, and social needs of the students. For more information about middle schools, visit the National Middle School Association's website at www.nmsa.org.
High schools house grades 9–12, or 10–12, depending on the district. A few districts group grade 9 in the middle or junior high school, and some house the ninth grade separately. The schedule of the high school day may vary. Traditionally, the school day was divided into six or seven 45- to 60-minute teaching periods. Today, some high schools have block schedules that divide the school day into as few as four periods or as many as ten or more periods. Some schools, such as one in San Juan High School in California, are adventurous enough to offer their students schedules in both traditional and block formats.
Middle, Junior, or High School Subject Specialties
If you love a particular subject, then you may want to choose a subject area to specialize in at the middle school, junior high school, or high school level. Are you a history buff who knows every battle from the Civil War? Do you love to read and find yourself trying to encourage others to read with you? Are you very good in math? Do you have a mechanical mind and love working on your car? If you want to become an expert in one field and share your passion with your students, teaching at the secondary level may be for you. There are many different subject areas you can select, such as:
- English and language arts
- physical education
- social studies
- home economics
- technical and vocational education
- education media
Schools keep adding more departments, and each one has subspecialties within the broad scope of the curriculum. The license for many of the academic departments commonly found in middle school, junior high school, and high school is usually for grades 7–12. Licenses for music, art, and physical education are often K–12. Certification requirements vary by state, but each specialty requires a separate license.
With a subject area specialization, you could teach five variations of a subject within a department or, if it is needed, you could repeat the same class four times to different groups of students. You may be asked to teach a class that is not in your subject area (and if you are new, you must say yes). Some teachers thrive in this kind of environment, rewarded by the opportunity to delve into a subject and to share their interest in that subject with many different students.
Special education is a demanding, yet rewarding, area of specialization that is growing by leaps and bounds. In 2009, President Obama's economic stimulus package more than doubled current federal funding for special education programs. The number needed is expected to increase by 15% by 2016—faster than the average for all occupations. Increases in the number of special education students will generate a greater need for special education teachers. So, if you have a soft spot in your heart for children with special needs, consider making this your specialty.
The range of possibilities in this area is vast. The special education license is usually very broad, covering grades K–12. If you have this certification, a school district can place you in any number of settings. You can even work in a residential setting if impaired students are too disabled to come to a general education building. Most public schools house their own special education classes, but this is not always the case.
There are, of course, many types of disabilities. Whenever possible, students with disabilities are mainstreamed into a regular classroom for all or part of their school day. Students with many kinds of physical disabilities, for instance, can learn right along with the regularly abled students of their same age. However, other kinds of disabilities may require that students get special support, either part-time out of the regular classroom or in a special class. Depending on your state, you may be able to get a special license to handle, for instance, students who are visually impaired, students with orthopedic disabilities, children with behavioral disorders, and many others.
Special education teachers may work alone or with others to create Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each of their students. An IEP is a written agreement between the parents or guardians and the school about what each child needs and what will be done to address those needs; IEPs are mandated by a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Children classified as "learning disabled" often have equal or better natural intelligence than other students in the school; they just have a problem in the processing. They fall under federal special education laws, and teachers must follow an IEP for each one of them. While there is some room for creativity, the plan must be fully implemented.
Add your own comment
Today on Education.com
WORKBOOKSMay Workbooks are Here!
WE'VE GOT A GREAT ROUND-UP OF ACTIVITIES PERFECT FOR LONG WEEKENDS, STAYCATIONS, VACATIONS ... OR JUST SOME GOOD OLD-FASHIONED FUN!Get Outside! 10 Playful Activities
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Test Problems: Seven Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Not Working
- Bullying in Schools
- A Teacher's Guide to Differentiating Instruction
- First Grade Sight Words List