Most times people find out I'm a middle school teacher, I'm almost always given both a surprised and sympathetic look. Most people think that teaching middle school takes a very special kind of person. To tell you the truth, they're probably right.
I never, ever thought I'd be a middle school teacher. I started at the elementary level. That was my comfort zone. Older kids? Never! Until I had my own kids. I learned that middle schoolers are people, too. When it was my daughter's turn to go to 6th grade, an opportunity opened up at the school she'd be attending. They were becoming an ESOL center and were hiring a Teacher/Department Chair to launch the new program. So, with much fear and trembling I applied, interviewed and was hired.
On my very first hall duty experience, a fight broke out between two eighth grade boys right in front of me. One of my biggest fears of transitioning to middle school was the likelihood of finding myself in a situation that might be dangerous or overwhelming.
To my relief, reinforcements were at my side within seconds and de-escalated the situation. Fourteen years later, I'm still in middle school. I was surprised to find out more than anyone else that I actually was one of those special kind of people.
Sometimes I get the thought, "Would you consider going back to elementary?" Other times, "How about trying high-school?" Maybe one day at some point I may consider one or the other, but today I'm happy in middle school.
I've always thought that each grade level requires a certain personality type. I think this is true for middle school, as well. If you're the nuturing type then 6th grade is your nitch. If you're a life skills coach-like person, then seventh grade might be for you. And, if you're a person who prefers more independent students, most likely to lead themselves, then 8th grade is where you might want to be. There's something for everyone in middle school. For me, I teach all three levels. I get to be nuturer, a life coach and prepare leaders.
I think middle school rules are the same rules for any grade level. Teaching is both rewarding and challenging regardless of the students' ages. There are kids who meet all the specs for their grade level, those who don't and those who exceed on every level. The most important rule for any level, grade, subject area, or school is that we must be certain that we are called to be teachers. How will we know? Regardless of the challenges we face each and every year, we still enjoy our jobs. When that is fully known and secured within ourselves then we can overcome any obstacle or struggle that may come our way.
Therefore, to all teachers, and especially middle school teachers, you are a special kind of breed in an amazing way. You are appreciated.