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Become An Elementary School Teacher

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Working As An Elementary School Teacher

  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Deal with People

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $49,107

    Average Salary

What Does An Elementary School Teacher Do

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers prepare younger students for future schooling by teaching them basic subjects such as math and reading. 

Duties

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically do the following:

  • Create lesson plans to teach students subjects, such as reading, science, social studies, and math
  • Teach students how to study and communicate with others
  • Observe students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Teach lessons they have planned to an entire class of students or to smaller groups
  • Grade students’ assignments to monitor their progress
  • Communicate with parents about their child’s progress
  • Work with students individually to help them overcome specific learning challenges
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules to teach children proper behavior
  • Supervise children outside of the classroom—for example, during lunchtime or recess

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers help students learn and apply important concepts. Many teachers use a hands-on approach to help students understand abstract concepts, solve problems, and develop critical thinking skills. For example, they may demonstrate how to do a science experiment and then have the students conduct the experiment themselves. They may have students work together to learn how to collaborate to solve problems.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers generally teach kindergarten through fourth or fifth grade. However, in some schools, elementary school teachers may teach sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. They typically teach students several subjects throughout the day.

Some teachers may teach in a multilevel classroom that includes students across two or more grades. They may teach the same group of students for several years.

Kindergarten and elementary school students spend most of their day in one classroom. Teachers may escort students to assemblies; to classes taught by other teachers, such as art or music; or to recess. While students are away from the classroom, teachers plan lessons, grade assignments, or meet with other teachers and staff.

In some schools, teachers may work in subject specialization teams in which they teach one or two specific subjects, either English and social studies or math and science. Generally, students spend half their time with one teacher and half their time with the other.

Some kindergarten and elementary school teachers teach special classes, such as art, music, and physical education.

Some schools employ teachers of English as a second language (ESL) or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Both of these types of teachers work exclusively with students who are learning the English language, often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). The teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English language skills and to help them with assignments from other classes.

Students with learning disabilities or emotional or behavioral disorders are often taught in traditional classes. Kindergarten and elementary teachers work with special education teachers to adapt lesson plans to these students’ needs and monitor the students’ progress. In some cases, kindergarten and elementary school teachers may co-teach lessons with special education teachers.

Some teachers maintain websites to communicate with parents about students’ assignments, upcoming events, and grades. For students in higher grades, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information or to expand on a lesson taught in class.

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How To Become An Elementary School Teacher

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.

Education

All states require public kindergarten and elementary school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Some states also require kindergarten and elementary school teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science. They typically enroll in their college’s teacher preparation program and also take classes in education and child psychology in addition to those required by their major.

In teacher education programs, future teachers learn how to present information to young students and how to work with young students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include fieldwork, such as student teaching. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit teach.org.

Some states require all teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification.

Private schools typically seek kindergarten and elementary school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified. Those who teach in private schools are generally not required to be licensed. Most states require teachers to pass a background check.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are typically certified to teach early childhood grades, which are usually preschool through third grade, or elementary school grades, which are usually first through sixth grades or first through eighth grades.

Requirements for certification vary by state. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, they are required to complete a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, typically gained through student teaching. Some states require a minimum grade point average. States often require candidates to pass a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach. Although kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically do not teach only a single subject, they may be required to pass a content area test to earn their certification. For information on certification requirements in your state, visit teach.org.

Teachers are frequently required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification.

All states offer an alternative route to certification for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately after graduation, under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master’s degree after completing one of these programs.

Training

In order to receive certification, teachers need to undergo a period of fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching. During student teaching, they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. The amount of time required varies by state.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teachers must collaborate with teacher assistants and special education teachers. In addition, they need to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.

Creativity. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must plan lessons that engage young students, adapting the lessons to different learning styles.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must respond with patience when students struggle with material.

Physical stamina. Working with kindergarten and elementary-aged students can be tiring. Teachers need to be able to physically, mentally, and emotionally keep up with the students.

Resourcefulness. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers need to be able to explain difficult concepts in terms that young students can understand. In addition, they must be able to get students engaged in learning and adapt their lessons to meet students’ needs.

Advancement

Experienced teachers can advance to serve as mentors to newer teachers or to become lead teachers. In these roles, they help less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills.

With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals, both of which generally require additional schooling in education administration or leadership.

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Elementary School Teacher Jobs

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Elementary School Teacher Career Paths

Elementary School Teacher
Coach Program Manager Education Director
Academic Dean
10 Yearsyrs
Social Studies Teacher Instructor ESL Instructor
Academic Director
8 Yearsyrs
2nd Grade Teacher Special Education Teacher
Assistant Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Educator Site Coordinator Youth Director
Children's Ministries Director
5 Yearsyrs
Middle School Teacher Assistant Principal Adjunct Professor
Curriculum Director
9 Yearsyrs
Teacher Instructor Chairperson
Dean
5 Yearsyrs
Lead Teacher Assistant Director Adjunct Instructor
Department Chairperson
7 Yearsyrs
Teacher Preschool Teacher
Director Of Preschool
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Teacher Case Manager Special Education Teacher
Director Of Special Education
12 Yearsyrs
Social Studies Teacher Teacher Pre-K Teacher
Director Of Teacher Education
5 Yearsyrs
Special Education Teacher Adjunct Instructor Instructor
Education Director
7 Yearsyrs
Special Education Teacher Assistant Principal
Elementary School Principal
12 Yearsyrs
Preschool Teacher Special Education Teacher Assistant Principal
High School Principal
12 Yearsyrs
Preschool Teacher Lead Teacher Assistant Principal
Middle School Principal
12 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Assistant Director Band Director
Orchestra Director
5 Yearsyrs
Coach Preschool Teacher Kindergarten Teacher
School Director
7 Yearsyrs
2nd Grade Teacher Lead Teacher Assistant Principal
School Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Assistant Principal High School Principal Assistant Superintendent
School Superintendent
14 Yearsyrs
Middle School Teacher Math Teacher Assistant Principal
Vice Principal
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Elementary School Teacher?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Bilingual Teacher 4.4 years
2nd Grade Teacher 3.2 years
5th Grade Teacher 2.6 years
8th Grade Teacher 2.6 years
6th Grade Teacher 2.6 years
4th Grade Teacher 2.4 years
1st Grade Teacher 2.2 years
Teacher Internship 0.8 years
Top Employers Before
Teacher 17.7%
Internship 4.3%
Tutor 3.2%
Volunteer 3.0%
Instructor 2.0%
Top Employers After
Teacher 19.4%
Tutor 3.0%
Principal 2.8%
Volunteer 2.7%
Internship 2.4%
Coach 2.2%

Do you work as an Elementary School Teacher?

Elementary School Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

79.8%

Male

18.2%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

78.8%

Hispanic or Latino

11.9%

Asian

6.7%

Unknown

2.0%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.9%

French

7.5%

Portuguese

4.5%

Chinese

3.7%

Japanese

3.7%

Mandarin

3.3%

Korean

2.9%

Italian

2.9%

German

2.9%

Arabic

1.6%

Russian

1.4%

Hindi

1.4%

Cantonese

1.2%

Urdu

1.0%

Romanian

0.8%

Hebrew

0.8%

Swedish

0.4%

Bengali

0.4%

Thai

0.4%

Tamil

0.4%
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Elementary School Teacher Education

Schools

Grand Canyon University

13.9%

University of Phoenix

12.9%

Walden University

7.0%

Northern Arizona University

6.1%

Nova Southeastern University

5.3%

Liberty University

5.3%

Michigan State University

4.6%

Florida Atlantic University

4.1%

University of South Florida

3.8%

Arizona State University

3.7%

Texas A&M University

3.7%

National Louis University

3.7%

University of Central Florida

3.6%

Lesley University

3.4%

National University

3.3%

University of North Texas

3.2%

Texas State University

3.2%

Lamar University

3.2%

Capella University

3.0%

University of Houston

3.0%
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Majors

Elementary Education

32.6%

Education

18.3%

Educational Leadership

7.5%

Special Education

5.5%

Early Childhood Education

5.1%

Business

4.2%

Curriculum And Instruction

3.8%

Psychology

3.2%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.8%

School Counseling

2.6%

English

2.6%

Liberal Arts

1.7%

Interdisciplinary Studies

1.6%

Counseling Psychology

1.4%

Communication

1.3%

Educational Technology

1.3%

Nursing

1.2%

Social Work

1.1%

Human Development

1.0%

Teaching Assistants/Aides

1.0%
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Degrees

Masters

41.7%

Bachelors

35.4%

Other

13.3%

Certificate

4.4%

Doctorate

2.5%

Associate

2.2%

Diploma

0.4%

License

0.2%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Elementary School Teacher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Elementary School Teacher Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School New York, NY Aug 15, 2016 $104,743
Elementary School Teacher San Mateo-Foster City School District San Mateo, CA Feb 11, 2016 $92,861
Elementary School Teacher The Trinity Episcopal School New York, NY Jul 21, 2016 $88,750
Elementary School Teacher Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Apr 01, 2015 $85,700
Elementary School French Teacher Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley Berkeley, CA Sep 13, 2016 $85,421
Master Elementary School Teacher Friendship Public Charter School Washington, DC Sep 30, 2015 $85,000
Elementary School Teacher Redwood City School District Redwood City, CA Jan 08, 2016 $83,057
Elementary School Teacher Salinas City Elementary School Salinas, CA Jul 17, 2016 $82,061
Elementary School Teacher Redwood City School District Redwood City, CA Aug 26, 2015 $79,748
Elementary School Teacher Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 01, 2015 $79,699
French Elementary School Teacher International School of The Peninsula Palo Alto, CA Feb 08, 2016 $79,000
Montessori Elementary School Teacher The Beddow School, Inc. Waldorf, MD Mar 13, 2015 $78,420
Chinese Elementary School Teacher International School of The Peninsula Palo Alto, CA Feb 08, 2016 $77,350
Elementary School Teacher San Mateo-Foster City School District San Mateo, CA Feb 09, 2016 $54,488
Bilingual Elementary School Teacher Santa Fe Public Schools Santa Fe, NM Sep 17, 2016 $54,466
Elementary School Teacher San Mateo-Foster City School District San Mateo, CA Aug 15, 2016 $54,419
Elementary School Teacher Dual Immersion Chinese Mandarin Pasadena Unified School District Pasadena, CA Jan 08, 2016 $54,348
Elementary School Teacher Kipp, Inc. Houston, TX Jul 22, 2016 $54,000
Elementary School Teacher, Except Special Education Valley Beth Shalom Day School CA Aug 15, 2016 $54,000
Elementary School Teacher Houston Independent School District Houston, TX Sep 26, 2016 $53,250
Elementary School Spanish Teacher Richland School District One Columbia, SC May 20, 2016 $45,982
Elementary School Teacher German International School Chicago Chicago, IL Jul 01, 2015 $45,925
Elementary School Teacher (Esol Endorsed) The School District of Palm Beach County Lake Worth, FL Jan 07, 2016 $45,900
Elementary School Bilingual Teacher Santa Fe Public Schools Santa Fe, NM Sep 12, 2015 $45,671
Elementary School Teacher Friendship Public Charter Schools Washington, DC Jan 21, 2016 $45,500
Bilingual Elementary School Teacher Ector County Independent School District Odessa, TX Aug 29, 2015 $45,500
Bilingual Elementary School Teacher Ector County Independent School District Odessa, TX Aug 15, 2015 $45,500
Elementary School Teacher Multnomah County School Dist 1J Portland, OR Sep 15, 2015 $45,371

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Top Skills for An Elementary School Teacher

ClassroomManagementGradeCurriculumMathematicsWeeklyLessonPlansSocialStudiesGradeLevelSmallGroupInstructionLiteracyProfessionalDevelopmentGradeTeacherKindergartenPositiveLearningEnvironmentSubjectAreasLanguageArts5ThGradeStateStandardsGradeClassSpecialNeedsSpecialEducationIEP

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  1. Classroom Management
  2. Grade Curriculum
  3. Mathematics
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide a classroom management/discipline plan ensuring safety at all times.
  • Instructed 3rd grade curriculum, implemented lessons to meet the academic, intellectual, and social needs of students.
  • Designed, developed and instructed elementary school curriculum for English language arts literacy, mathematics, science and social studies.
  • Prepared weekly lesson plans and quarterly instructional calendars to guide cross-curriculum instruction.
  • Maintain compliance with Georgia Professional Standards in math, science, social studies, reading, and language arts.

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What Is It Like To Be An Elementary School Teacher? - GREAT!