Returning to the Magic of Middle School, AM I CRAZY?

7 Apr 2024 11:46 AM | Paige Jennings (Administrator)

By: Jason Yantzer, Lyons High School Teacher, St. Vrain Valley School District; Thunder Valley K8 NEW 8th Grade Teacher, St. Vrain Valley School District

This is my 24th year in education with most of my years at the high school level teaching AP classes and coaching high school students.  But next year I am transitioning to a K-8 School that is rocking it!! This school is doing great things for kids. This school has risen to the challenge of EXCELLENCE and are achieving it in many different capacities.  I am excited to be a part of this incredible school. Middle School is not completely new to me as I started my career in middle school and about 7 years ago, I was an Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at a middle school for 3 years.

Often there are more push factors that are involved in a big change like this.  However, in this situation there were way more pull factors pulling me to make this change.  The thought of learning a new curriculum, and a schedule change is exciting and intriguing. The deep discussion of an APUSH class certainly won’t happen at the middle level but because I have taught at that deep of a level, I can use that to my advantage! I look forward to keeping middle schoolers on the edge of their seats when we talk about historical concepts in class. I am also excited to bring History ALIVE to my 8th graders with some great interactive lessons that I have used in my high school classes.

High School is busy with clubs, activities, band performances, athletic events, etc., but the hallways and classrooms are pretty chill when it comes to student behavior. Believe it or not, I am looking forward to learning and brushing up on some great classroom management skills and tools that come along with middle level behaviors!  I can’t wait to empower my 8th graders to be empowered to own their behaviors and their learning!!

At the high school level, the stakes are higher as students receive credits to pass a class which leads to more buy-in from the students to pass a class. At the middle level I am excited to share ways to capture their attention and help them develop a love for History. I want them to go home and talk about what they learned in History class with their parents at the dinner table. I want their GOOD THING to be what they learned in Mr. Yantzer’s class. .  I know, from experience, that teaching at the middle level will bring certain challenges that the high school level just doesn’t have. But all kids want to know that you care about them. When they know that you care they will begin to care what you know.

I am not crazy in making this transition as I truly believe that a school, regardless of the level, must be a good fit for the teacher regardless of the teacher’s experience!  This transition is a good fit for me as I value professional growth.  As an educator when you are happy and taking care of yourself as a professional then there will be a direct reflection of that through your teaching!

Change is hard but change also promotes and creates opportunities for growth.

Usually when that happens both the teacher and the students will reap the benefits of a re-charged, motivated, caring teacher that has a ton of experience. I am excited to be that teacher for my middle level students and doing what’s best for kids in our educational system. Afterall, we are not in this profession for us, we are in this profession to help make a difference in the lives of all kids. What an awesome opportunity to make a positive impact on students daily.   Either way this comes out in the end as a win/win for all. They will get the best version of me as a teacher, and I will challenge myself to grow as an educator and as an individual. “Comfort the Troubled and Trouble the Comfortable….” It's my turn now to rise to the challenge and accept the comfortability of a new position and thrive in a different environment. I am ready to be in the MIDDLE!! 

Colorado Association of Middle Level Education


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