How to Become an Elementary Teacher
If you are great with children, are patient and good at explaining things, and interested in a career in education, then you might like to become an elementary teacher. An elementary teacher helps children to develop literacy and numeracy skills in their early years of schooling. They also help them to develop emotional and social skills.
Younger children learn through playing, so in the first year or two of school, a teacher will work with the students using methods like storytelling, role playing, and other games. Older children concentrate more on academic skills, and will spend more time reading and writing. In the last year or two of elementary school, students will start learning from a wider range of disciplines, such as science and history.
Most elementary school teachers have bright and personable personalities. They also have excellent interpersonal skills and stay calm even in a crisis. An elementary school teacher must be able to relate to children without speaking down to them and alienating them. They need to be admired by their students, and also respected, without becoming unapproachable.
Education Requirements to Become an Elementary Teacher
If you are in high school, you can start preparing to become an elementary teacher. A good idea is to take jobs where you work closely with children. For instance, as a babysitter or working at a before and after school care center. You might also volunteer your time at a sporting organization, or similar, to get some experience with kids.
To become an elementary school teacher in the public system, you will need to complete a bachelor's teaching degree with a teaching or education major, and also have a license within your state. To teach at a private school, you will still need a bachelor's degree in education, but do not have to be licensed. The education requirements to become an elementary teacher can vary from state to state.
When you're at college, your degree will need to have a certain component of education courses. Check with your state authority to make sure your courses are accredited. In recent years, some states have offered alternative entry ways to teaching for those with a bachelor's degree in a different field.
You can find out more about accreditation at the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Elementary Teacher Job Description
When you become an elementary teacher, you will teach a class of students between the ages of 6 to 11 years old and you will most likely teach them for one full school year. As an elementary teacher you must teach across a broad range of subject areas. Literacy and numeracy are of the utmost importance for this age group. You may also teach children other subjects like science, geography, history, art, and music.
An elementary teacher plans and runs a wide range of different classes. They work with students as a group, and also on a one on one basis. They keep in contact with parents, with written reports on a child's progress, as well as at other times when required.
When you become an elementary teacher you will have students in your class from a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. You will need to be able to relate well to all kinds of people, and also have strong communication skills.
Some of the tasks you could be responsible for as an elementary teacher include:
- Developing curriculum
- Teaching children
- Supervising the playground
- Helping children to develop social and emotional skills
- Writing reports and marking papers
- Keeping contact with parents
- Disciplining children when required
Most elementary teachers work ten months of the year. Most use the summer for professional development, while some simply take a vacation. Many elementary school teachers work overtime, marking papers or tutoring students who need additional support.
Elementary Teacher Salary and Career Path
Once you are qualified as an elementary teacher you will be able to teach your first class, as long as you have completed your state's licensing requirements. With experience, some elementary teachers move on to specialized positions such as librarians, guidance counselors, reading specialists, leading teachers, or educational administrators. Some become school principals or educational researchers.
Education is a great field to be employed in. Employment growth is strong, so once you are qualified you should not struggle to find a job.
The median salary for an elementary teacher is $51,000 a year. The top 10% of earners made $80,000 a year.
Some similar jobs to elementary teaching include:
- High School Teacher
- Kindergarten Teacher
- Preschool Teacher
- Special Education Teacher
- Speech Therapist
When you become an elementary teacher, you can look forward to a rewarding career where you can help students achieve their potential. It's also a job where professional development is offered, and there are a lot of areas for advancement.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics