Becoming a School Teacher

Interview with a Middle School Teacher

Eight grade social studies teacher, Cory Schoenherr, from Huron, Ohio, shares what it is like to be a middle school teacher. He has been teaching eight graders American history for the past four years. Prior to obtaining his current position, he was a substitute teacher and a part-time special education teacher. He shares his dedication and passion for teaching in the JobMonkey interview.

Why did you decide to enter the field of education?

When I was in junior high and a freshman in high school, I had little to no motivation to achieve in school.

I got by with C’s and D’s. However, I had teachers from various subjects who inspired me to excel academically. Even though I am a history teacher, it was my geometry teacher that motivated me to reach for new levels in the classroom. She was a person that devoted herself to the teaching profession, and she helped in boosting my academic self-esteem. Plus, I was beginning to perform well in sports, so the whole coaching aspect of teaching interested me as well. When I entered college and began working toward my teaching license, I realized I had a stronger passion to be in the classroom than coaching.

What education and other requirements were needed for certification?

I had to have a high school diploma plus a Bachelor of Arts degree from an accredited university or college. I attended Bluffton University where I worked toward a teaching license in Adolescent to Young Adult: Integrated Social Studies. From my recollection, I had to take six courses centered on education plus my student-teaching courses. Also, I had to earn a degree in history and take a variety of courses in the social studies (i.e. Economics, Geography, Psychology, Sociology, etc.). When I was a senior, I had to pass a written and oral history assessment devised by a panel of professors. Finally, I completed my requirements by partaking in a fifteen-week student-teaching experience at Wapakoneta High School in Wapakoneta, Ohio. I was advised by a cooperating teaching and mentoring professor from Bluffton. I also had to pass two PRAXIS exams. One was over teaching methods and the other was for secondary social studies. After fulfilling these needs I was able to earn my licensure.

What are the rewards and challenges of teaching eighth grade students?

The rewards and challenges are numerous. In terms of challenges, eighth grade is sort of a limbo year for many students. They are at a point where the academic rigors toughen, but for many students they realize there is little to no consequence for not putting forth a tremendous amount of effort. Getting poor grades and averages in the eighth grade will not affect their chances of getting into a college or university. So motivation tends to be a concern for many teachers I work with.

While many students are self-motivated, there are always a hand-full of students who are not driven by percentages and grade letters.

On the other hand, because it can be more difficult to motivate eighth graders, I have to strategize and plan out my lesson in a more creative way. I enjoy the challenge. When I am able to excite students in American history, then this proves highly rewarding. I have to come up with hands-on lessons in which students engage the content in a creative and analytical way. My methods allow me to build a great rapport with students. It is enjoyable to have students from previous years come back to my classroom just to say hello and talk. It makes teaching beneficial and fulfilling.

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