The field of education is both personally and professionally satisfying, and many future teachers begin by considering the education degree needed to teach junior high at the start of the journey to becoming an educator. Working with junior high school or middle school students is both challenging and rewarding, and taking the steps to get the right degree if the first step to gaining the expertise to make a difference.
An Undergraduate Degree in Education
Most future teachers who are looking to teach at the junior high school level will pursue a secondary education degree. The education degree is designed to prepare graduates to lead students through their educations successfully, focusing on specific age groups and unique areas of learning. For junior high teachers, this means preparing to handle social, cognitive, and behavioral development of children from the ages of around 10 to 15, depending on the age groups included in a school system’s middle school or junior high.
An education degree program includes many different types of course work. To start, a number of general education courses will be completed. Typically after the first or second year, undergraduates will begin to complete education courses in subjects such as classroom management, adolescent development, and methods of teaching. Additionally, several hours of classroom observation and field work will be required in order to begin to gain the experience and first-hand knowledge of working with students and in a classroom from experienced educators. At the end of the degree program, a student teaching seminar must also be successfully completed in order to qualify for state licensure and certification and to meet graduation requirements.
Subject Matter Expertise
In addition to the education major, future teachers who are looking to work at the junior high school or middle school level will be required to complete course work in specific subject areas. The majority of school districts will look for candidates who are highly qualified to teach in at least two subject areas. Some options include English, science, mathematics, and physical education.
Increasingly, there are degree programs available for teaching specific subject areas at the middle school level. For example, a prospective educator can find a degree that is offered specifically in middle school social studies or middle school science. These degree programs conveniently combine the education degree with major subject area course work already included and tend to focus specifically on the junior high age group.
Alternative Paths to the Middle School Classroom
In many states, secondary educators do not necessarily need to have a degree in education. Because teachers at this level focus on one or two subject areas, a prospective teacher who has a bachelor’s degree in a field such as math, science, business, English, or computer science can often meet the state requirements for licensing by returning to school to complete a fast-track program in education, which includes coursework in teaching methods, observation, and student teaching. Additional information on alternative routes to teacher certification can be found on the National Education Association website.
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Becoming a successful teacher takes the right knowledge and expertise. Whether starting an education to be a teacher or going back to get certified, there is an option for the right education degree needed to teach junior high.