Leah, thanks for your moving post and Alix was right on. I've taught middle school for years and love it, never wanted to teach anything else... but I needed to hear those today :-) We have 11 more days and there is so much that I still want them to try!
I have always been drawn to this level partly because of their trials and partly because at this same age my school didn't have art and it left a gap. I want them to have that experience. Can I teach elementary, sure (did at first for 2 years) can I teach HS, sure (offered a job in the district but FTE didn't come through for them) but what I love is teaching! ....it's the interactions with students....the building relationships.....the ah ha moments....the process....the on and on list............Is it hard? yes Is it exhausting (mentally AND physically)? yes But I wouldn't do anything else.
Stacie, you are doing good things and getting through to kids. Most importantly, you are reflecting and changing and adapting-trying your best to make it authentic and exciting for students-and not giving up.
We can tell you our experiences, issues, complaints, successes...but we can't tell you what to do or which level is best for you. By even asking the questions you are searching your heart...dig deep for what you want and what you need and what you have to offer....you'll see what is the right situation for you.
wishing you all the best and keep us posted~
Creatively, Linda in Oregon (who's in need of sun because it's still RAINING!!!!)