Shoring up the front lines in middle school

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We all know middle school-ers are a more difficult age to engage than most (my own son speaks a language I don't even understand half the time, spouting out words like "derp"), and the recent findings of a three-part study of teacher turnover in New York City middle schools proves it. The Research Alliance for New York City Schools concludes, in part, that middle school teachers are leaving their schools at higher rates than elementary and high school teachers. They suggest one of the factors in this early departure may be school environment. The number one survey response from teachers who considered leaving middle school: lack of student discipline.

We find that most teacher training programs seldom focus on the middle grades and instead offer a generalist approach. Perhaps teacher training programs should prepare candidates with proven management techniques targeted to the grade levels they intend to teach. This would go a long way in building a workforce of effective teachers for this critical age.