How Do I Become an Elementary School Teacher?

If you enjoy working with young children and are naturally good at sharing information and teaching new skills, you might wondering how to become an elementary school teacher. Elementary school teachers are the professionals who instruct classes of students in the lower grade levels. Typically, elementary school includes students in the first through fifth grades, though some elementary school teachers instruct students up to eighth grade. Elementary school teachers in both public and private schools prepare their students for future academic success by teaching them a variety of subjects, giving them a strong educational background in the basics of mathematics, English, social studies and science.

Unlike older students, the children in elementary school often spend the majority of their school day in one classroom, learning from one teacher. Elementary school teachers have to create the lesson plans, assignments, activities and educational materials to teach students every basic subject required by a school district’s curriculum or a state standardized examination. They must interact with students on a level that makes education interesting and engaging. Teachers are also responsible for evaluating students by grading tests, projects, participation and classwork and homework assignments. They help students who are struggling to learn study skills and develop strategies to succeed academically. In addition to their roles as academic instructors, teachers enforce rules and guide social development. Elementary school teachers often let parents know how their children are progressing academically, socially and behaviorally.

To prepare for a career as an elementary school teacher in either a public or private school setting, candidates should earn a bachelor’s degree from a college or university. Aspiring elementary school teachers are typically required to hold degrees in elementary education, though some states and colleges require education majors to study an additional content area, like science or history, as well. Elementary education programs include coursework in child development and psychology, classroom management and teaching strategies appropriate for a young age group. During their academic career, aspiring teachers will also acquire firsthand experience working with students while fulfilling a student-teaching requirement. Upon completing their formal education, teachers who intend to work in a public school setting must obtain a state license and certification to teach elementary school.

Elementary school teachers earn a median salary of $51,660 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Career opportunities for elementary school teachers are expected to grow by 18 percent between 2010 and 2020, as compared to only 14 percent job growth anticipated across all occupations, the BLS reported. Job opportunities may increase even more quickly for aspiring teachers who earn the credentials to teach special education or English as a second language (ESL) students, and in school districts where large groups of current teachers are nearing retirement. If you enjoy the challenge of watching, instructing and entertaining young children and have a passion for education, knowing how to become an elementary school teacher could be the start of a rewarding new career.

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