Of all the subjects middle school teachers can specialize in, social studies is one of the most important. Firstly, social studies encompass several important topics: government/politics, history, human relations, geography, and sociology. Secondly, it teaches students the critical-thinking, problem-solving and evidence-based skills that will become critically important to them as they progress toward high school and, then, to college.
Short History of “Middle School”
Middle school (generally 6th thru 8th grade or ages 11 thru 14 years) was the end of the formal education road for most young up until the 19th century. Recognizing that this age/grade level was a pivotal point in most people’s education, however, things were changed for the better.
Basic Qualification Criteria
In order to become a middle school social studies teacher, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree, preferably with a concentration in social studies or related subjects. If your degree does not contain teacher education courses (as would a B.A.Ed.), then you will have to take additional courses in order to sit for the licensing-qualifying test(s) the Board of Education within your state requires.
You may get around these no-degree-granting courses by simply going for a master’s in education or teaching (a.k.a., an MAT, M.A.Ed., etc.), if you want more recognition for your troubles. Also, getting a master’s may open up more employment/higher-salary opportunities.
Certification/licensing (required to teach in public schools) is granted only upon meeting all educational, testing and basic teaching experience requirements. As for the latter, it usually requires a student teaching internship (often part of teacher education programs).
Important Statistics and Facts
If considering becoming a middle school social studies teacher, consider the following:
- Average pay for middle school teachers is $51,960.
- Approximate number of jobs available as of 2010: 641,700
- Additional number of jobs expected by 2020: 108,300, or a %17 increase
- The number of middle school-qualified students is expected to increase dramatically because of open adoption policies from overseas (such as China), improved infertility treatments, increased immigration (especially for professional, such as doctors, who come with their families) quotas, and an over-all increasing US population.
- Middle school is, basically, the last educational bus (metaphorically speaking) “stop,” before students head into high school; what they learn/fail to learn here may decide how well they do in high school and beyond.
Duties and Responsibilities
Middle school social studies teachers strive to
- Take attendance and keep track of students
- Prepare, submit and implement lesson plans
- Assess and document student academic performance
- Deal with disciplinary problems
- Oversee/help with extracurricular activities (student clubs, competitions, sports/entertainment events, etc.)
- Implement new technology equipment and methodology
- Meet with parents and administrators
- Participate in many professional development programs
- Attend conferences and seminars (sometimes representing the school)
- If they have any time left over, teach student social studies
What Steps to Follow in Becoming a Middle School Social Studies Teacher
You education/career plan may include:
- Selecting a good-reputation school with teacher education programs—to that end, consider online schools which are often cheaper (saving money on gas, time traveling to/from classes, textbooks, etc.), offer degrees indistinguishable from those completed on campus, and are more convenient (especially for busy parents, people constantly on the run or moving, and people in the military) than regular colleges.
- Applying for admission to a teacher education program leading to, at least, a bachelor’s; if you already have a non-education bachelor’s, consider applying for a master’s in education/teaching (which often include certification-qualifying requirements).
- Taking any tests your state requires before granting certification/licensing (e.g., the PRAXIS).
- Completing a student-teaching residency.
- Getting your license/certification from your state’s Department or Board of Education.
- Getting letters of reference and applying for openings in your area (or out of state, if necessary).
If you want to be a middle school social studies teacher, you have chosen a very honorable profession/career. You may not get rich, but you will be rich in respect, admiration and the sense that comes from actually making a difference in the lives of intelligent and talented young people. In other words, the future of the country will be, in a way, in your hands. Contact a school near you, if you can, and make your dream a reality!