“A Brave Group of People”: Teacher Candidates’ Perceptions of Teaching in Middle School

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Current Issues in Middle Level Education




We set out to create a middle grades program and to inform the field about the perceptions of our teacher candidates on teaching middle school. To accomplish these twin goals, we sought to better understand our teacher candidates’ perceptions of teaching middle school and how these perceptions might be changed if necessary. Our review of research included three themes to frame this work: (a) middle school philosophy, (b) motivations to teach, and (c) middle school teacher preparation. We chose an emergent, qualitative research design to cull rich data from diverse stakeholders including open-ended survey data. We found an overarching deficit narrative about middle school students even though teacher candidates expressed admiration for middle school teachers. Our teacher candidates professed a need for coursework on classroom management and adolescent psychology as well as more field experiences to better prepare them for careers in the middle grades. Implications for middle grades programs are discussed including the structure of field experiences and teacher preparation curriculum. We explain specific revisions to our own program in the attempt to generate analytic generalizability.


0000-0002-3175-0547 (Beck), 0000-0002-2326-3984 (Hinton)

Original Publication Citation

Perry, B., Beck, J. S., & Hinton, K. (2021) “A brave group of people”: Teacher candidates’ perceptions of teaching in middle school," Current Issues in Middle Level Education, 26(1), Article 2. https://doi.org/10.20429/cimle.2021.260102