If you are interested in how to become an elementary school teacher, figuring out why you want to become an elementary school teacher is a good place to start. When you decide to pursue this career, know that it will be a very rewarding experience. You may have some hard times, but the pros will likely outweigh the cons. Elementary school teachers can help foster social and intellectual growth in their youngest students. Their impact can be great, and they can make a lasting impression on their students. 

The training that an individual may undergo and the requirements for that individual who want to become an elementary school teacher will vary by state. In this article, you will learn more about what an elementary school teacher does, what skills one must possess to succeed in this role, and what steps one can take to become an elementary school teacher. 

Elementary School Teacher Job Description

The elementary school teacher job description can vary depending on where you look. In short, elementary school teachers are individuals who specialize in educating students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Certain schools and states also include pre-kindergarten and/or sixth grade in their elementary definition. If you are curious about a certain school, look at it’s district site or inquire directly with the school. 

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Most of the subjects in a kindergarten through fifth-grade classroom have one primary teacher. That teacher is in charge of teaching all of the subjects, meaning, the teacher must have a good understanding of most subjects rather than only having a specialty. Because elementary school teachers are typically dealing with younger students, the lesson plans revolve around activities. It is up to the elementary school teacher if they also want to decide to supplement learning with formal lessons that may help to prepare them for middle school and high school education. The main subjects typically taught in an elementary school provide foundational skills in reading and writing, social studies, history, science, and basic mathematics. 

Responsibilities of an Elementary School Teacher

The responsibilities of an elementary school teacher also vary, however, the following list showcases the main responsibilities that they may have inside and outside of the classroom:

  • Fostering an engaging and inclusive learning environment for each student in the classroom – This will help make learning much more enjoyable for the students and will produce a more productive space for them. 
  • Creating and enforcing classroom procedures for managing the classroom – Not only will this help students have guidelines that they must follow, but it will also provide expectations for the entirety of the classroom that must be upheld. 
  • Coordinating with school staff and administrators, as well as the parents/guardians of the children – Having colleagues that you can work with will be helpful when creating lesson plans. Being supportive and addressing any questions or concerns that parents or guardians may have involving their children will help them feel safe and create a stronger relationship. 
  • Stocking the classroom with learning materials – Because the classroom is where learning will take place, making sure it contains all the supplies to make learning easily accessible is a must. 
  • Supervising students throughout the day, and accompanying them when they participate in activities away from the classroom – When students are at school, teachers are the ones who are responsible for them. Be sure to keep your eye on your students and if you sense anything wrong, be sure to speak up or act on it. 
  • Tailoring a curriculum plan for the school year. This includes planning lessons, giving tests, and administering homework assignments – It’s important to create lessons that are doable and adhere to certain standards. Collaborate with colleagues and work with others at the school to determine what these standards are and how you will create a course that aligns with them. 
  • Providing evaluations and grades for each individual student based on work, behavior, and overall performance – In order to understand if a student is grasping the material or if more support is needed , it’s important to evaluate performance and keep track of the grades.
  • Equipping students for standardized testing, administering the tests while following local and state guidelines, and providing feedback – Public schools require that children take standardized tests. What you teach them in the classroom should help prepare them for these tests so that they can do well and demonstrate their capabilities. 
  • Staying up to date on classroom and curriculum standards – Again, because you are in charge of the classroom, you are in charge of creating the lesson plans. Make sure what you are teaching your students to  align with up-to-date standards. 

Skills of a Successful Elementary School Teacher

As you look at how to become an elementary school teacher, you should learn what skills you should have to be a successful elementary school teacher. The below skills will help your career as an elementary school teacher flourish and will establish a healthy and safe classroom environment for your students:

  • Ability to collaborate and coordinate within a team – If you are creating new lesson plans, the ability to collaborate with other colleagues and share ideas will help keep consistency in teaching across the classrooms at a school. 
  • Empathy – Showing students that you care and can relate to them will make them feel supported and respected. 
  • Communication skills – Being a good communicator will allow you to effectively teach students new material throughout the year, no matter what age. 
  • Thorough understanding of elementary-level education and academic subjects – In order to teach a subject, you must be able to understand it yourself!
  • Ability to manage a classroom and the individual needs and issues of the students – Sometimes teaching younger students can get frustrating! Doing your best and harnessing your ability to manage students will help you. If you see they are having a hard time learning, be confident that you can step in and help them with concepts that may be harder to grasp.
  • Knowledge of how to teach students with different learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds – Every student is different, and every student learns in a different way. Being able to use different approaches will allow students to learn effectively. 
  • A positive and enthusiastic attitude towards learning that serves as a model for the students – Having a positive attitude will rub off on students. In turn, they will likely show up and have a positive attitude about learning, making your job much easier. 

Elementary School Teacher Salary

Many factors can change the salary of an elementary school teacher. District, grade, and the state that an individual is in can have an impact on how much someone is getting paid. The average elementary school teacher’s salary is $48,394. The highest-paying states for elementary school teachers are as follows: 

  1. California ($85,110), 
  2. Massachusetts ($84,810), 
  3. New York ($84,380), 
  4. Connecticut ($79,610), 
  5. District of Columbia ($78,840).

Job Outlook for Elementary School Teachers

Due to the shortage of teachers in the United States, there is a positive outlook for elementary school teachers in terms of hiring. The overall employment of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2020 to 2030. In terms of openings, it is projected that there will be about 123,300 openings for kindergarten and elementary school teachers each year. There are some states with a high demand for teachers than others. California, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, and Hawaii are amongst these states with  higher demand. 

H2: How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Below is a consolidated list of steps you can take to become an elementary school teacher: 

1) Earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education

Most states require that a bachelor’s degree is obtained before an individual can teach in the classroom. While this may vary based on if you are looking at public or private school, it is safe to say that if it is not required, it is preferred. 

2) Complete an internship in an elementary school classroom

Internships are not only necessary, but internships also provide individuals with the experience that they need to manage and teach in a classroom. 

3) Take your state’s licensing exams for elementary teachers

In order to receive your certification, you must take and pass a state licensing exam for elementary teachers. The exam(s) differ based on the state, however, taking a certification program like Teachers of Tomorrow will help guide you in the right direction. 

4) Apply for a license through your state board of education

Once you complete all requirements and pass the necessary exams, it’s time to apply for your license!

5) Start applying for elementary school teacher jobs 

The last step is to apply for elementary school teacher jobs! Think about the district that you want to join and the community that you will become ingrained in. Thinking about this will help you choose the right school for you. 

Starting Your Teaching Career

Once you have your certificate, it’s time to start your teaching career! If you do not have your certification, it can be difficult to find jobs in most schools, even private schools. They are often preferred and can help you stand out from others who do not have their certificate. Consider other certification options, such as Teachers of Tomorrow, and become one step closer to teaching elementary school students!