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What does an Elementary Teacher do?

Elementary teachers play a crucial role in children’s development, inspiring them to work harder, helping them to learn valuable fundamental skills and guiding them to make decisions and solve problems. If you want to become an elementary teacher, you’ll need sufficient training and certification, along with high levels of creativity, energy and patience.

elementary teacher

What is it like being an elementary teacher?

Unlike teachers in higher grades, who tend to focus on subject areas of specialty, elementary teachers are “jacks of all trades,” providing instruction to students in a variety of subjects from social studies to science, math, history and spelling. They use creative approaches to address the needs of varying learning styles, so games, computers, artwork, films, puzzles and readings may all be resources you use throughout your career.

In addition to planning and carrying out lessons, you’ll need to grade assignments, prepare report cards, perform administrative tasks, meet with parents or administrators, serve on committees and attend numerous meetings and seminars. While the hours of an average elementary school day may seem rather short, a teacher’s workday can be quite long when these other tasks, as well as planning lessons, are figured in.

How do you become an elementary teacher?

In the United States, public school elementary teachers must be licensed by a State Licensing Board or licensure advisory committee. The typical route to licensure is a bachelor’s degree in a teacher education program, covering such subjects as early childhood education, human development, language arts, psychology and special education. You may also spend time observing elementary school classrooms, and complete a semester of student teaching under the mentorship of a licensed teacher.

Private schools may not have requirements for licensure, and alternative licensure programs may be available for those with bachelor’s degrees in other fields.

To maintain licensure, a certain amount of continuing education or even student performance may be required, and some schools place a premium on advanced degrees, increasing pay for, or promoting those who earn master’s or doctoral degrees. Elementary teachers with advanced degrees may opt to become education administrators or even principals.

The future of elementary teachers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), elementary teacher positions are expected to grow by 13 percent (about as fast as average). Enrollments have been increasing more slowly in recent years, and there is a more plentiful supply of elementary teachers than there are in other grade levels or specialties.

Those with specializations in such in-demand fields as bilingual instruction, mathematics and science should fare slightly better, as should teachers willing to work in inner-city or rural, underserved schools.

In general, the New England states tend to pay slightly higher wages than do other areas of the country. As many elementary teachers will tell you, the rewards of this work far surpass those of salary.

What does an Instructional Designer do?

Are you interested in learning, teaching, and education, but prefer a non-classroom role that focuses more on interaction with adult professionals than with students? If this sounds appealing, becoming an instructional designer could be the right match for your career ambitions.

instructional designer

Instructional designers are highly skilled experts who play a central role in shaping the curriculum, testing requirements, teaching materials, and even teaching methods that are used in public school classrooms and other learning environments. Though these jobs are highly demanding and require extensive formal education, they are also prestigious and well compensated positions.

Instructional designer: Day-to-day duties

The everyday job responsibilities of an instructional designer can vary significantly. On a general level, instructional designers are charged with the task of helping to create and implement educational curricula, so the specific duties assigned to this role can be virtually any task that helps achieve the larger goal. This can include activities such as analyzing test scores, observing classroom instruction, evaluating textbooks, assessing classroom technology, training teachers and administrators, and helping to implement and execute any new programs or technologies.

Although there are some instructional designers who are generalists, many school systems now prefer to hire instructional designers who specialize in particular subject areas, especially those identified as core subject areas under curricular requirements.

Instructional designer: Education requirements

Because of the high-level responsibilities given to instructional designers, most positions in this field require substantial formal education. Most mid- to high-level positions in instructional design require a master’s degree, while top jobs in the field may demand a doctoral degree. In addition, many public school positions may require instructional designers to maintain current teacher certification in their area of specialization.

Instructional designer: Job outlook and salary potential

Information gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that instructional designers are poised to experience excellent professional prospects. Based on BLS data, it is predicted that the rate of growth in the field of instructional design will far exceed the average for all fields. In return for long hours and high educational requirements that these positions often entail, most instructional designers are well compensated.

Take aim for the top of the education field–explore your educational options in the field of instructional design today.

What does a Kindergarten Teacher do?

Kindergarten teachers play a crucial part of the early development and social integration of young children. For many students, the kindergarten teacher provides their first glimpse of the core educational topics–math, reading, writing, social studies and science–that they are going to pursue for the next 12 school years.

kindergarten teacher

Life in the classroom

A good kindergarten teacher will have mastered dozens of games and play skills that allow young students to weave fun along with learning. Subjects introduced at the pre-school level, such as number, letter and color recognition, phonics, nature and science, are more deeply explored in the kindergarten classroom. Another job of a good kindergarten teacher is helping students get excited and enthusiastic about learning and their education, children’s book publisher, Scholastic, reports. Good kindergarten teachers also help their students take the steps necessary to becoming independent learners and thinkers.

Educational requirements for kindergarten teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically complete a bachelor’s degree program, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, as well as earn a teaching credential–a requirement in all 50 states. Although educational programs vary by institution, coursework for kindergarten teachers often includes study in the following topics:

  • Early childhood education
  • Learning environments and social relationships
  • Family and community involvement
  • Child health and safety
  • Resolving conflicts with young children

Kindergarten teachers are required to complete a period of supervised teaching as well. This understudy work typically is completed in the final year of study of an early childhood education program. During this time, new kindergarten teachers often get their first taste of working with young children, and under the guidance of a master teacher, they can refine their classroom communication and teaching skills.

Job outlook and salary expectations

Employment for kindergarten teachers is expected to grow by 15 percent, the BLS reports. Schools with the best options are in rural areas and inner cities rather than suburban districts. Teachers who are bilingual can boost their chances for employment, the BLS states. Ninety-four percent of all kindergarten teachers were employed at elementary or secondary schools.

Heavily-populated states, such as California and Texas, are the largest employers of kindergarten teachers, but teachers in large metropolitan areas typically brought home the best pay.