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Why Middle School Teachers Are a Special Breed of Educators

Why Middle School Teachers Are a Special Breed of Educators

Update: 2024-06-02
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This episode of Teacher's Off-Duty Podcast continues to delve into the world of middle school teaching, exploring the unique challenges and rewards that come with this age group. The hosts discuss the impact of technology on middle schoolers, highlighting the excessive amount of information they consume daily and the potential for unhealthy attachment to their phones. They emphasize the importance of social-emotional learning and the need to address the mental health challenges that middle schoolers face, particularly in relation to social media and peer pressure. The hosts share their personal experiences with middle school, including their own struggles and triumphs, and offer advice for aspiring middle school teachers. The episode concludes with a reminder that middle schoolers are going through a lot and deserve support and understanding, despite their sometimes challenging behavior.

Outlines

00:00:00
Introduction

This Chapter introduces the topic of the episode: the unique characteristics of middle school teachers and the challenges they face. The hosts, all middle school teachers, introduce themselves and set the stage for a discussion about the "special breed of crazy" required to teach this age group.

00:02:12
Board Teachers Comedy Tour

This Chapter is a brief advertisement for the Board Teachers Comedy Tour, a stand-up comedy tour featuring the hosts of the podcast. They announce upcoming tour dates and locations, including Billings, Montana, Bozeman, Montana, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and various cities in South Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

00:04:19
Middle School Humor and Challenges

This Chapter delves into the unique humor and challenges of teaching middle school. The hosts discuss the prevalence of inappropriate jokes and references, particularly related to the number 69 and the planet Uranus. They also share their experiences with teaching the reproductive system and the importance of addressing sensitive topics head-on. The hosts also discuss the "last clap game" and how it exemplifies the unique humor and energy of middle schoolers.

00:12:48
The Rewards of Teaching Middle School

This Chapter explores the rewards of teaching middle school. The hosts share their personal experiences and express their love for teaching this age group. They highlight the unique energy and creativity of middle schoolers, comparing them to a ball of clay that is constantly being molded in different directions. They also discuss the importance of building relationships with students and the emotional whiplash that comes with teaching this age group.

00:25:22
Balancing Structure and Relationships

This Chapter focuses on the importance of balancing structure and relationships in the middle school classroom. The hosts discuss the need for clear boundaries and expectations while also emphasizing the importance of building rapport with students. They share their experiences with different teaching techniques and the challenges of finding the right balance between being authoritative and building relationships.

00:36:02
Middle School Drama and Individuality

This Chapter explores the unique dynamics of middle school social groups and the importance of individuality. The hosts discuss the prevalence of drama and the challenges of navigating social hierarchies. They also highlight the positive trend of increased inclusivity and acceptance among middle schoolers, where individuality is celebrated and friendships are formed across different social groups.

00:40:49
Motivating Middle Schoolers

This Chapter focuses on strategies for motivating middle schoolers. The hosts discuss the importance of finding creative ways to engage students, including the use of food as a motivator. They also share their experiences with substitute teachers and the challenges of managing student behavior in their absence. The hosts also discuss the changing landscape of classroom management and the challenges of dealing with chronic absenteeism and the decline of traditional classroom activities like movie days.

00:46:33
Technology and Social-Emotional Learning

This Chapter explores the impact of technology on middle schoolers and the importance of social-emotional learning. The hosts discuss the excessive amount of information middle schoolers consume daily and the potential for unhealthy attachment to their phones. They emphasize the need to address the mental health challenges that middle schoolers face, particularly in relation to social media and peer pressure. They also discuss the importance of social-emotional learning and the need to teach students how to navigate difficult social situations and build healthy relationships.

Keywords

Middle School
The stage of education between elementary school and high school, typically encompassing grades 6-8. It is a period of significant physical, emotional, and social development, characterized by rapid growth, hormonal changes, and the formation of identity. Middle school students are often described as being in a "tween" stage, bridging childhood and adolescence.

Teacher's Off-Duty Podcast
A podcast hosted by a group of middle school teachers who discuss their experiences, challenges, and insights into the world of education. The podcast provides a platform for teachers to share their stories, connect with other educators, and offer advice and support to aspiring teachers.

Classroom Management
The strategies and techniques used by teachers to create a positive and productive learning environment. It involves establishing clear expectations, rules, and consequences, as well as building relationships with students and fostering a sense of community in the classroom.

TikTok
A social media platform known for its short-form videos, often featuring trends, challenges, and humorous content. TikTok has become increasingly popular among young people, including middle school students, and has influenced classroom culture and student behavior.

Extracurricular Activities
Activities that take place outside of the regular school curriculum, such as sports, clubs, and arts programs. Extracurricular activities provide students with opportunities to develop their interests, skills, and social connections.

Authoritative
A style of leadership or parenting that combines warmth and firmness. Authoritative figures set clear expectations and boundaries but also provide support and guidance. This approach is often considered to be the most effective for fostering healthy development and positive outcomes.

Chronic Absenteeism
A pattern of frequent and persistent absences from school. It can have a significant negative impact on student academic performance, social development, and overall well-being.

Social-Emotional Learning
The process of developing self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. It is essential for students' academic success, social development, and overall well-being.

Mental Health
A person's emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It encompasses a wide range of factors, including mood, stress levels, coping mechanisms, and relationships. Mental health is essential for overall health and well-being.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The simulation of human intelligence processes by computer systems. AI is used in a wide range of applications, including image recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning. It has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of our lives, but also raises ethical concerns about its impact on society.

Q&A

  • What are some of the unique challenges of teaching middle school?

    Middle school teachers face a unique set of challenges, including dealing with inappropriate humor, navigating sensitive topics, managing student behavior, and finding the right balance between structure and relationships. The hosts discuss the prevalence of inappropriate jokes and references, the importance of addressing sensitive topics head-on, and the need for clear boundaries and expectations while also building rapport with students.

  • What are some of the rewards of teaching middle school?

    Despite the challenges, teaching middle school can be incredibly rewarding. The hosts share their personal experiences and express their love for teaching this age group. They highlight the unique energy and creativity of middle schoolers, comparing them to a ball of clay that is constantly being molded in different directions. They also discuss the importance of building relationships with students and the emotional whiplash that comes with teaching this age group.

  • How can teachers balance structure and relationships in the middle school classroom?

    The hosts emphasize the importance of finding a balance between being authoritative and building relationships with students. They discuss the need for clear boundaries and expectations while also emphasizing the importance of building rapport with students. They share their experiences with different teaching techniques and the challenges of finding the right balance between being authoritative and building relationships.

  • What are some strategies for motivating middle schoolers?

    The hosts discuss the importance of finding creative ways to engage students, including the use of food as a motivator. They also share their experiences with substitute teachers and the challenges of managing student behavior in their absence. The hosts also discuss the changing landscape of classroom management and the challenges of dealing with chronic absenteeism and the decline of traditional classroom activities like movie days.

  • How has social media impacted middle school culture and classroom management?

    The hosts discuss the influence of TikTok and other social media platforms on middle school culture and student behavior. They share their experiences with dealing with TikTok trends and the challenges of managing student behavior in a digital age.

  • What are some of the unique characteristics of middle schoolers?

    The hosts describe middle schoolers as being in a "tween" stage, bridging childhood and adolescence. They highlight the unique energy, humor, and social dynamics of this age group, emphasizing the importance of understanding their developmental stage and providing appropriate support and guidance.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring middle school teachers?

    The hosts offer advice for aspiring middle school teachers, emphasizing the importance of structure, flexibility, and understanding the unique humor and energy of this age group. They also stress the importance of building relationships with students and finding a balance between being authoritative and supportive.

  • How do middle schoolers' social groups and friendships differ from those in other age groups?

    The hosts discuss the unique dynamics of middle school social groups and the importance of individuality. They highlight the prevalence of drama and the challenges of navigating social hierarchies. They also discuss the positive trend of increased inclusivity and acceptance among middle schoolers, where individuality is celebrated and friendships are formed across different social groups.

  • What are some of the challenges of dealing with chronic absenteeism in middle school?

    The hosts discuss the challenges of dealing with chronic absenteeism in middle school, highlighting the impact it can have on student academic performance, social development, and overall well-being. They also share their experiences with students who are absent for extended periods of time and the challenges of managing their academic progress.

  • How can teachers create a positive and productive learning environment for middle schoolers?

    The hosts discuss the importance of establishing clear expectations, rules, and consequences, as well as building relationships with students and fostering a sense of community in the classroom. They also share their experiences with different classroom management techniques and the importance of finding a balance between structure and flexibility.

  • What is social-emotional learning and why is it important for middle schoolers?

    The hosts discuss the importance of social-emotional learning, highlighting the need to teach students how to navigate difficult social situations, build healthy relationships, and manage their emotions. They emphasize that social-emotional learning is essential for students' academic success, social development, and overall well-being.

  • How does technology impact middle schoolers' mental health?

    The hosts discuss the potential negative impact of technology on middle schoolers' mental health, highlighting the excessive amount of information they consume daily and the potential for unhealthy attachment to their phones. They also discuss the challenges of dealing with cyberbullying and the pressure to maintain a certain online image.

Show Notes

Our middle school students did what!? 

 

Welcome back to Teachers Off Duty! This week our hosts Bri Richardson, Gabe Dannenbring, and Jess Smith give you the lowdown on the world of middle school education. 

 

We know a thing or two, because we've seen a thing or two. You would not believe some of the hectic and hormonal things we’ve seen middle schoolers do. From giggling at textbook questions to making roaches class pets, they have some unhinged tendencies. But it’s not all bad, we also have our fair share of heartwarming stories to share about our middle school students. 

 

Teaching middle school is not for the faint of heart, it takes patience, resilience, and perseverance. Although we like to stay positive, middle school is a rough time for these students and teaching them comes with its own set of challenges. But don’t you worry, if you’re struggling right now, were going to share our tips and tricks on how we handle these situations

 

With this all being said however, teaching middle school also comes with plenty of rewards. There is no better feeling than seeing your students grow and succeed in their goals. So tune in as we share the lighter side of teaching our middle schoolers. 

 

3:25  - Tween’s Emotional Rollercoasters

8:40  - Teaching Triumphs & Trials

15:15  - Classroom Hilarity Ensues

21:05  - Hormonal Havoc Tactics

28:30  - Sanity Saving Strategies

 

So prepare to cringe and celebrate with our educators on this week's episode of Teachers Off Duty.

 

______________________________________________________________

Teachers Off Duty Podcast by Bored Teachers

 

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Why Middle School Teachers Are a Special Breed of Educators

Why Middle School Teachers Are a Special Breed of Educators