While it is generally known that all levels of teaching, from kindergarten to college, are not easy, most will agree that teaching middle school students can be difficult.

While middle school is undoubtedly one of the hardest age groups to teach, it can also be the most rewarding for teachers and students alike, but there are a few things we’d like you to know to understand it truly.

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Teaching middle school students can be tough

Between trying to engage with teenagers, battling hormones and tantrums, and getting them off their cell phones for five minutes, we want them to enter high school with enough knowledge and direction to help them succeed.

Figuring out how to motivate middle school students is so tough

As an adult, if you think back to your middle school years, not many people would say they remembered a particular class or teacher that stood out or homework that inspired them to think about college or a job. No, you probably think about the person you had a crush on for a summer, how you worried that your braces made you look dorky, or some dramatic fight with someone whose name you can’t remember anymore.

So, if we as adults can’t recall our middle school education, how are kids nowadays different?

  • They are trying to figure out how to interact with each other
  • How to become self-confident enough to talk aloud in a group, let alone in class
  • Figure out how to navigate this world while not quite being allowed the autonomy to do so by parents and teachers alike

The last thing they care about is class, which is a constant source of tension between teachers and students. Finding the right balance of learning and fun is particularly tiresome with middle schoolers because they have so much teenage drama going on it can be hard to break down the barriers.

Middle school students are a breed of their own

If you are a teacher, you are likely putting out fires left, right, and center, six hours a day, five days a week, while devising tactics and lesson plans to help them get into high school with a decent amount of knowledge.

  • Not only do they think they know everything; but they also cannot see the long-term consequences of their actions
  • Teenagers are so desperate to fit in they will do anything, and that can be a gigantic problem for those who have unsupervised cell phone access, or they fall in with a bad crow
  • Bullying is rife amongst middle schoolers, and social media has made this much easier, much worse, and can be seen by a larger audience if it goes up online.
  • Fighting and violence are more commonplace in middle school years than at any other time in a child’s educational journey, and it is difficult to spot as it can be to stop
  • Be prepared for them to ask ridiculous questions about your personal life or straight-up create rumors about you if you annoy the wrong student

Not only will you have to deal with the students, but you will also have to deal with the parents of these children.

As adults, we assume there will be a camaraderie with parents as teachers and parents are largely on the same side in trying to get the kids the best education possible. Still, it is a hard line regarding other issues that can arise in teenagers.

  • They will be asking about their child’s behaviors, and test results (as well as why they are bad if the child isn’t doing well) as well as a barrage of another questioning
  • As a teacher, you have to be ready, to tell the truth to parents, even if that truth is not what they want to hear
  • Occasionally parents will choose not to believe you and become defensive when their child is reprimanded or accused of/ or the victim of bullying

While teaching middle school is very tough, it is worth being able to shepherd students through their difficult and often awkward teenage years and help them become successful.