Professional Roles & Responsibilities of Middle School Teachers

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

In this lesson, you'll see how to manage the middle school classroom environment and time. You'll learn about differentiating instruction, identifying learning differences, and assessing learning, as well as other requirements.

Roles and Responsibilities

Sandra just passed the middle school teacher certification test and best of all she's been hired at Round Rock Middle School.

The principal, Mrs. Grinder, has asked Sandra to attend a new teacher orientation today. Mrs. Grinder tells the new teachers that teaching middle school is rewarding, but there are challenges when students transition from elementary to middle school. Mrs. Grinder explains that being aware of the challenges and understanding your role as a middle school teacher will enhance the lives of the students and ensure your success.

For the rest of this lesson, we'll explore the roles and responsibilities of a middle school teacher: providing a nurturing environment, maximizing instructional time, identifying learning differences, accurately assessing and reporting, and continuing your education.

Providing a Nurturing Environment

Mrs. Grinder starts by saying as students make their transition from elementary to middle school, we as teachers should provide an environment that cultivates mutual respect for one another. Name calling, bullying, isolation, intimidation, and mistreatment should not be tolerated.

Your classroom should be a learning environment for all students of varying backgrounds. Teachers must keep in mind that students may be from different socio-economic backgrounds and cultures. Inclusiveness is the key in maintaining a nurturing environment.

Maximizing Instructional Time

Mrs. Grinder continues by pointing out that the new teacher orientation has been interactive so far and that this classroom instructional time should be similar. Fun, interactive, and engaging lessons increase learning. You will collaborate with your peer teachers to construct these activities and lesson plans.

Your lesson should start with a hook: a question or activity that raises the students' interest in the subject. For example, for a lesson on organizations, have students draw their family tree. Let students explain their family tree and then correlate the family tree with an organizational chart. Define an organizational chart and discuss the components.

In your discussion, remember that research shows students' attention span roughly equals their age. If your students are 13 years of age, their attention span is about 13 minutes. So about every 13 minutes, you should change activities. After discussing the organizational chart, check for students' understanding of the material, provide a group activity, and then provide an individual activity for students to demonstrate their learning.

Differentiating Instruction

Mrs. Grinder asks, 'How many of you know how you learn?' Sandra raises her hand and asks, 'Do you mean if we know what type of learner we are?' Mrs. Grinder says, 'Exactly, are you an auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learner? Auditory learners learn best by listening; visual learners learn by seeing; and kinesthetic learners prefer using their hands. Encompassing all three different styles in your instruction and activities will ensure you reach each student.

Assessing different learning styles is just one example of differentiating instruction. Differentiating instruction means providing several paths to learning. You can be creative in finding various activities that interest students and enhance learning.

Identifying Learning Differences

Another important responsibility as a teacher is identifying learning differences. Teachers cannot diagnose a student, however, they can observe if a student is having a recurring challenge. Documenting each instance will be helpful in your discussion with the parent and administration.

Just as important as identifying challenges is recognizing students with exceptional abilities. These students are sometimes classified as gifted and talented and have a much higher knowledge base than their peers. It's important to spot these students as well so they can be placed in the appropriate class or grade. In sum, pinpointing students with learning differences will ensure students receive the assistance or support they need to be successful.

Assessing Learning & Reporting

There are two main types of assessment: formative and summative. Formative assessments identify where students need improvement before an exam or project. An example would be a draft for a research paper. The summative assessment evaluates the student's learning such as an actual research paper. Other examples of summative assessments include a mid-term or final exam.

Reporting is an important component also. Grading in a timely manner, providing substantive feedback, and communicating with students and parents on suggestions for improvement are imperative. When speaking with parents, always document your conversation. Remember to say something positive first before providing any adverse information.

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