Although middle school is a crucial period in a child’s development, it has no specific associated degree. So, can you teach middle school with a secondary education degree?
A secondary education degree is an ideal qualification for middle school teachers. However, a prospective teacher must also have studied the subject they plan to teach. They also need to complete an internship, pass their state’s teaching exams, and receive a teaching certificate and license.
Although secondary education degrees are also for high school teachers, middle school teachers can get excellent use out of this bachelor’s. By majoring in their favorite subject, middle school teachers can share their academic passion with generations of students.
What Qualifications Do Middle School Teachers Require?
Middle school teachers need a bachelor’s degree specializing in the subject they plan to teach, plus a teaching certification.
While Teacher Certification Degrees explain that somebody could major in their preferred subject and add the teacher certification, doing so is less common. Instead, most middle school teachers study for a secondary education degree.
However, a relevant bachelor’s degree isn’t the only qualification that middle school teachers require. A prospective educator must also take an internship for on-the-job training.
Drexel University sheds some light on student teaching. Working with a teacher mentor allows trainees to apply their pedagogical training safely and gain crucial classroom experience.
Afterward, they must pass their state’s teaching exams and earn a teaching certificate and license. Only then can they apply for work as a teacher.
The work doesn’t end there, though. Western Governors University adds that middle school teachers must renew their licenses every five years and complete any additional requirements. By doing so, an educator remains updated with the evolving curriculum.
Remember that specific teaching requirements also vary by state. Therefore, it would be best for teachers to complete their training and certification in the same area to avoid any legislative issues.
Additionally, soft skills are an essential teaching aid. While these abilities are not technically qualifications, middle school teachers will need public speaking, communication, and organizational skills.
Likewise, middle school teachers need patience, creativity, active listening skills, and empathy to educate teenagers correctly.
Middle schools are also departmentalized and experiencing a shortage of STEM teachers. A potential educator who dual majors in relevant subjects will significantly increase their chances of being hired since they can teach several subjects.
Can You Be A Middle School Teacher Without A Secondary Education Degree?
A secondary education degree is not a strict requirement to become a teacher. Instead, middle school teachers could have a different major if they studied the teacher preparation program alongside it.
Not only that, but somebody could take a master’s degree in education, which would fulfill the degree requirements to become a middle school teacher.
It is also possible to become a middle school teacher even if a person already has a different bachelor’s degree and doesn’t undergo postgraduate studies. In that case, they must pursue alternative teacher certification.
These programs are available in most states and include coursework that satisfies the requirements of a teaching certificate and license.
Although alternative teacher certification isn’t standardized and varies across states, there are some general commonalities.
First, a person must complete a teacher preparation program and apply for a provisional teaching certificate. With that document, they can begin their on-the-job training, teaching under supervision.
Afterward, they can take their state’s teaching exam and become educators.
Some states might require potential teachers to take the exam and complete the rest of their training. It’s wisest to check the requirements of your specific state here.
Furthermore, special education isn’t included in an alternative teacher specification. Middle school teachers in special education need extra training to work with unique challenges and care for their students.
Can You Teach Junior High With a Secondary Education Degree?
An individual can teach junior high school with a secondary education degree. Junior high and middle school occupy a similar selection of grades, namely sixth to eighth. Therefore, a secondary degree is ideal for a potential junior high teacher.
According to Western Governors University, the requirements for teaching junior high are the same as teaching middle school. Middle school teachers can apply to teach junior high and vice versa.
However, teaching styles differ somewhat. Junior high also often includes ninth grade, but not fifth. So, the students will be slightly older on average and more independent. Not only that, but academics is primary, and learning is less collaborative.
How Is Teaching Middle School Different From Teaching High School?
A secondary education degree is also a valuable qualification for becoming a high school teacher. For an education student who hasn’t decided on their career path yet, secondary education thus offers them two main routes.
Middle schoolers are far more energetic and require more supervision, despite their intense desire for independence. Not only that, but they’re going through the most transformative years of puberty, making them more emotionally unstable.
In contrast, high schoolers can work more independently. Their acts of rebellion are more likely to be indifferent than rowdy. Regardless, teachers can trust these older teenagers to complete the assigned work without constant guidance and treat them more like adults than children.
We can see this trend reflected in the classroom design of the schools. In middle school, the students occupy the same classroom while teachers move around. In high schools, the administration trusts its pupils enough to have them punctually move between classes.
Nevertheless, both sets of teachers work with teenage students who need acceptance and guidance as they mature into adults. Despite the differing levels of freedom that teachers must prepare to offer, both middle and high schools are departmentalized. A teacher will focus on their specific subject.
Laura Randazzo made an excellent video on how teachers with secondary degrees can decide between middle school and high school:
To conclude, most middle school teachers have secondary education degrees. This program lets teachers specialize in their favorite subject while still preparing for the challenges and rewards of educating teenagers. This degree also qualifies them to teach junior high.
However, a secondary degree isn’t the only option. Potential educators can pursue an alternative teacher certification instead.
If you are curious whether a primary school teacher can teach at a middle school, click to find out.
- Teacher Certification Degrees: How to Become a Middle School Teacher: Career and Salary Information
- Teacher Certification Degrees: Guide to Alternative Teacher Certification in 2023
- Drexel University: How to Become a Middle School Teacher
- Education Corner: Job Outlook for Teachers through 2022
- Grand Canyon University: How to Become a Middle School Teacher
- Education Degree: How to Become a Middle School Teacher
- YouTube: Middle school teacher or high school teacher? How I made my choice + advice for secondary teachers
- Western Governors University: What’s the Difference Between Middle School and Junior High School?
- Western Governors University: How to Become a Junior High Teacher
- Center for Teaching Quality: Are Middle School and High School Students Really That Different? Observations and Advice From MS/HS Teachers