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How to Become An Elementary School Teacher

Elementary school teachers are responsible for introducing children to the basics of language, numbers, science, and social studies. Using a number of tools, these teachers plan lessons that teach students subjects, such as reading and math, assess and evaluate their abilities, and grade assignments to monitor their progress.



Why Pursue a Career as an Elementary School Teacher?

Elementary school teachers build a special bond with their students, watch them grow and learn. There are a number of advantages of pursuing this line of work. Firstly, being a teacher provides individuals with a chance to shape the minds of kids and nurture them, which can be self-fulfilling.

Elementary school teachers may not have to work during the weekends, holidays, and they also get two month summer break – something that many other jobs do not offer. Besides, elementary school teachers may also be entitled to benefits like health insurance and retirement savings.

The job outlook for these professionals looks favorable in the coming years (2012 -2022), according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Aspiring elementary school teachers must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. They may also need to major in an area such as science or math, as it is required in some states. A bachelor’s program in elementary education will allow students to complete both general education and elementary education-specific courses. Students will learn a number of methodologies and educational philosophies, required in the field.  They will also learn classroom management through courses such as organizational strategies, and instructional planning techniques.

Typically, elementary school teachers pursue a university’s teacher preparation program that allows them to learn how to present information to young students of different backgrounds. Students also need to complete fieldwork, such as student teaching as a part of their program. In addition, taking classes in child psychology and education can also be useful for these budding teachers.

Earning a master’s degree can also be useful for future elementary school teachers. This advanced program can help prospective elementary school teachers develop skills and gain a deeper understanding of the teaching profession.

License Requirements

Elementary school teachers who work in public schools need to hold a license or certification, while those who work in private schools do not.  While requirements for certification vary by state, applicants need to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, complete a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching to obtain a license.

Professional Development Courses

Participation in the continuing education programs is also essential for elementary school teachers in order to maintain their teaching license. The continuing education courses allow teachers to built upon their skills and become more effective teachers.

Desirable Skills for Elementary School Teachers

According to the BLS, the number of students enrolling in elementary schools is likely to grow over the coming decade, which in turn will require the services of elementary school teachers.  The BLS noted that job growth for elementary school teachers is expected to be faster in the South and West than in the Midwest and Northeast.

The median annual wage for kindergarten teachers in 2012 was $53,400, according to the BLS. The top 10 percent earned over $83,160 a year.

Elementary school teachers generally work regular school hours but at times they may need to meet with staff or parents before or after school hours. Many work the traditional 10-month school year and have a two month break during the summer. Just like other teachers, elementary school teachers also spend time in the evenings and on weekends preparing lessons or grading exams.

In general, the elementary school teachers perform the following duties:

During 2012 and 2022, 167,000 more elementary teacher jobs are expected to be added across the U.S. Once you complete your training and obtain a license, you can start looking for a job by applying for positions in public or private schools. You can explore online job postings or look for opportunities directly in schools near you.

The hiring process typically includes three steps:

You may possibly have an edge over other applicants by earning additional state certifications in elementary education.

  • Energy - Dealing with the little kids requires boundless energy.

  • Communication Skills - Elementary school teachers should be able to work well with students as well as teacher assistants and special education teachers. They should also be able to discuss students’ needs with their parents.

  • Creativity - It is important for elementary school teachers to be creative as they are required to plan lessons that may engage young students. Many elementary school teachers take a playful approach, using games and songs to engage their students.

  • Patience - Patience is one of the most important skills for elementary school teachers. The reason being that working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can both be challenging and frustrating at times.

Career prospects Earning potential Work schedules Job responsibilities
  • Planning lessons that teach students subjects, such as reading and math, and develop skills, such as studying and communicating with others

  • Working with students one-on-one in order to help them overcome specific learning challenges

  • Assessing students to evaluate their strengths, and weaknesses

  • Grading assignments

  • Communicating with students’ parents about their progress

  • Supervising children during lunchtime or recess

Career Outlook
  • A written application/ initial interview
  • A formal interview with the human resources office
  • A final interview with the school principal/ school’s hiring committee

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