A Day in the Life of A Middle School Teacher
by Mindy RIzzi
Being a junior high math teacher after having taught elementary has given me a unique perspective as an educator. I truly appreciate being able to go in depth and focus on one subject area with the students. It is so rewarding for me to see the growth and development of our kids each day. The students I have in my classes at Davis require varying degrees of assistance to access the curriculum we use (EdGems) be it language, prior knowledge in math, or learning style. In my classroom I have my students work in table groups with assigned roles and responsibilities so that every student has a role in learning. Teams work together to ensure all students stay engaged and provide their skill to solving problems collaboratively and creatively. As a teacher, this allows me to check in with my students who need my help most.
This year, I have about 140 students and there is no way I could do it alone. At Davis, we work in cohorts to share student rosters. The students I have for Math will rotate throughout the day to my teaching partners for Science, History, Language Arts, PE and Elective. Our teacher cohort meets once a week using our prep periods or during our COI work on Wednesdays (adjusted day). We use this time to check in with each other and compare notes on how our students are doing socially, emotionally, and academically. This type of collaboration time really allows us to focus on student growth and development as we prepare them for high school.
Some of the challenges in teaching 7th and 8th grade students is teaching perseverance, grit, and rigor. With 52 minute class periods of competing for the students’ attention, the time goes by fast with classroom management, transitions, and making the rounds to check in with each student in a class of 30 or more. Having the team of cohort teachers and counselors to help us touch base with all of our students is very necessary.
I love being a junior high teacher because I can be present for our students at a time in their life when they are figuring out their identity. High stakes testing, social and hormonal changes in students, cell phones, pop culture, and being 13 are all distractions to the learning environment. I find that by building relationships with the students and showing them how much we care about them is the foundation to keeping them engaged. Finding the time to have a bit of fun and keeping a sense of humor keeps the day flowing. When I see my students cross the stage at graduation I am proud of the accomplishments they made from 6th grade to Freshmen in high school. So much change and development happens in the two short years they spend with us at Davis. In the life of a jr. high teacher, the days go by rapidly and it’s a constant race to keep up with growing demands; and it’s the time spent with students and colleagues as well as the little ah-ha! moments in class that really make it all worth it.