Middle school serves as a important transition between elementary and high school. Students aged from eleven to thirteen (or fourteen), teenagers yet still children, have an opportunity to choose some subjects for the first time in their life. They move to different classrooms for different subjects, such as arts, social studies, or science. At middle school level, they simply get a bit more independence, and responsibility–because the two always go hand in hand, which should prepare them for their life and studies at high school.
It is an exciting time of life for students, and a challenging one for teachers, because teaching teenagers is never easy. They tend to struggle with discipline, many of them lose their interest in studies, and many also experience their first profound crisis of life–the crisis of adolescence. On the other hand, it is also an exciting time, because as a teacher you can help them make the right decisions when it comes to their educational goals and their future.
The questions you will face while interviewing for this job do not differ much from general teacher interview questions, but you may face some questions specific to this level, and we will have a look at them right now (together with some questions you may face in an interview for any teaching job). Let’s start!
Why do you want to work as a Middle School Teacher?
You can talk about your passion for teaching in general, the meaningful purpose you see in this job. But you should also touch the subject of middle school teaching, and why you are interested in this particular level of education. Maybe you feel that you have the right personality for working with young teenagers. You have a good understanding for their emotional world, they seem to trust you, and you are able to make a good connection with them–which definitely helps you to achieve the desired results in your classes.
Another alternative is talking about subjects you want to teach–specific for middle school, such as science and languages. Of course, you could teach such subjects at high school as well (or even at the university), but with your education, skills, and personality, you prefer to teach at middle school.
Alternatively you can say the level of education does not matter to you much. You saw a job opening, you liked the job conditions, read good things about their school, and decided to apply. Whether it is elementary or middle school is of secondary importance to you really.
In your opinion, in what way does good middle school teaching differ from elementary school teaching?
In my personal opinion, it does not differ much. Regardless of the age of the students, and subject taught, a good teacher is able to engage their students in the lessons, making the lessons interactive and interesting. What’s more they succeed in following the lesson plans and achieve the desired results with their students as the year progresses. You can say so in an interview, but you can also focus on some minor differences.
For example, at middle school level, we should give the students more independence, and let them work on creative tasks, because that’s what they will do at high school, and middle school should prepare them for the transition (so the eventual change won’t feel extremely dramatic to some of them). You can elaborate on it, pointing out some teaching methods fitting for middle school (and for the subject you teach).
Young teenagers often lose interest in their studies. How do you plan to motivate them?
Thirteen years old, you know how it goes… First loves, butterflies in the belly, but also comparisons with your peers and questioning of your qualities, which can often lead to all sorts of physical and emotional problems, and a loss of interest in your studies. Can teachers do something about it? That’s a million dollar question really, but you should at least show a desire to help the students stay on track.
You can say that especially at Middle School, you will try to make the lessons as engaging as possible. Using technology in the classes and applying various teaching methods, especially methods that involve the children in the educational process, as well as making sure students see the connection of the subjects covered in your lessons with real life, and with their future, should help with the motivation on their side. Of course, in some cases nothing will work, and it is something you have to accept as a teacher. Regardless of how hard you try, some students simply won’t pay attention…
At middle school students often struggle with discipline. How do you plan to address this challenge?
You should have some plan, or at least some ideas. You can start by saying that you want to set clear rules of discipline with your students, in each and every classroom, right from the beginning of the school year. They should know what you expect from them–and what they can expect from you, including rewards, punishments, and so on.
Another idea is referring once again to the quality of your teaching. Of course, some students make problems simply because they try to show off, perhaps seeking recognition they are missing, something all teenagers strive for. Any type of recognition, even for disruptive behavior.
But some students misbehave simply because they do not enjoy your teaching. And in such cases you can make a difference, with new teaching concepts and methods, making sure that they at least somehow enjoy what’s going on in the classroom. Accept some responsibility, and show right attitude to teaching.
What subjects do you prefer to teach? Any subjects you’d rather avoid?
Every good teacher knows their strengths and weaknesses. Unless they look for Math or Chemistry or Social Studies teacher in particular, you can definitely show your preferences in the interviews. But you should always elaborate on your answer. You want to teach Physics, because you believe to excel in teaching it, and are sure students will gain a lot having you in the classroom. Or you want to teach History, because you are an avid reader and know many interesting stories from the history of mankind. Narrating them to the students will help you captivate their interest, and make this otherwise boring subject tolerable at the least.
When it comes to subjects you’d rather avoid teaching, I suggest you to do the following: Pick one or two subjects, and say that you prefer not teaching them, simply because you excel in teaching other subjects, or do not even know anything from them. You can also add that when necessary, you can at least substitute a missing teacher, and that in emergency cases you can teach almost anything (at middle school level of education).
Other questions you may face in your middle school teacher job interview
- Why do you want to teach here and not at some other middle school?
- In your opinion, what challenges will you face while teaching here?
- What do you expect from the administrators of this school, and other stakeholders?
- How do you plan to include parents in the education of your students?
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
- In your opinion, what are the best teaching methods for middle school?
- Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know.
- How would you describe your teaching style?
- How do you connect your lessons to the real world?
Try not to over-complicate your preparation for the meeting with the school principal. Middle school is specific in some ways, especially in the challenges you face while teaching students of this age group. At the end of the day though, good teaching is good teaching, regardless of where you teach, or how old your students are.
Stick to the basics. Show passion for teaching and confidence in your ability to do it well. Ensure them that you want to try your best in every classroom, and never cease to work on your teaching skills. If you do so and do not remain silent while facing their questions, you will typically get this job. I wish you good luck!
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