Elementary School Teacher Job Description
Job Requirements for Teaching Elementary School
Are you thinking of teaching at an elementary school? What is an elementary school teacher’s job description? How can you qualify for this kind of teaching job?
There are a few requirements to becoming an elementary school teacher. While specific requirements may vary state to state, there are some that are typically expected. A bachelor’s degree or higher, passing scores on qualifying exams, and a state license or certificate are usually required.
In some states, college students can major in elementary education. In other states, students select a content area to major in. Then they complete education-related coursework through a certificate program. For state-specific information, visit your state’s department of education website.
So you will likely need to have a degree, pass state tests, and get your teaching license. Most school districts also require official transcripts and a background check. To learn more about the district you’re applying at, connect with their human resources department.
Skills Needed to Be An Elementary School Teacher
An elementary school teacher job description involves a complex set of skills. First, teachers must have strong communication skills. Every day, elementary teachers communicate with students, other teachers, families, and administrators.
Why is communication important? You will need to be able to articulate information to students during a lesson. You also will be collaborating with colleagues in meetings, and share a student’s progress with their parents or guardians. Teachers often communicate verbally, but also need to have strong written communication skills.
Creativity and Flexibility
The most effective teachers are also creative and flexible. Why? Elementary school teachers use their creative thinking to design engaging lessons, meet student needs, and solve problems.
You will frequently partner with other teachers or specialists. So it will help to have a flexible approach when sharing ideas and collaborating. Creativity and flexibility can also help teachers meet the challenges of the job. These skills will help to find innovative solutions to problems. They will also allow teachers to remain patient and adaptable in times of stress, and think outside the box.
Critical Thinking Skills
Being an elementary school teacher also requires critical thinking skills to set goals, analyze data, and reflect. Elementary teachers set academic goals for students, collect assessment data, and design lessons to continue to support student achievement. At the same time, elementary teachers set goals for their instructional practices. The most successful educators are continuously learning and improving their craft.
Organization and Time Management
It’s also important for elementary school teachers to be organized and manage time well. There are many tasks to juggle throughout each day. A teacher needs to keep the needs of 20+ students in mind and navigate competing priorities. Keeping the environment, resources, and materials organized can help make lessons more effective.
Job Duties and Responsibilities of an Elementary School Teacher
Instructional Class Time
Elementary school teachers have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities! They spend most of their time instructing students in math, reading, writing, science, and more. During instructional time, teachers deliver content, lead class discussions, keep students engaged, monitor student understanding, collect data, provide accommodations, and answer questions.
An elementary teacher also works with students to create and sustain a classroom culture. This might include setting norms and routines, leading social-emotional learning and community circles or class meetings, supporting students through peer conflict, and responding to student behavior.
Collaboration and Communication
When teachers are not instructing, they prepare lesson materials, plan future lessons, and collaborate with other staff members. Collaboration opportunities might include mapping upcoming units, or analyzing and discussing assessment data. It can also be a time to plan how to address specific student needs.
They are also responsible for communicating with parents and guardians. Often, teachers make phone calls or send emails to keep families informed of their child’s progress. Teachers might also spend time outside of their classrooms engaged in professional learning. Schools plan in-service days, late-start days, or early-release days to give teachers time to learn together.
Other Job Responsibilities
Most of a teacher’s duties remain consistent throughout the school year, but there can be some variation. Before the first day of school, teachers spend a great deal of time gathering materials and setting up their classrooms. Many teachers enjoy the anticipation and excitement a new school year brings.
During specific times of the year, teachers hold parent-teacher conferences, administer assessments, or complete report cards. There might also be special events they are required to attend. Be sure to read your contract and specific elementary school teacher job description for more details!
Challenges Elementary School Teachers Face
While being an elementary school teacher is a rewarding career, it does come with challenges.
One challenge is having enough time, and completing work during the school day. Teachers often juggle lesson planning, administrative tasks, professional learning, grading, and more. With so many competing priorities, finding time to complete every task can feel difficult. Many teachers may work additional hours to fulfill the requirements of their roles.
Another challenge teachers face is meeting the individual needs of students. In one classroom, teachers often have 20-30+ students, each with specific strengths, areas of growth, and lived experiences. Students might be experiencing poverty, learning a new language, navigating a disability, coping with trauma.
Teachers work hard to get to know their students and provide instruction to meet their individual needs. Despite how hard teachers work to support each student’s academic, social, and behavioral growth, it won’t be easy.
Currently teachers are facing challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is challenging to navigate teaching with masks, social distancing, and heightened safety protocols. Most students have also experienced disrupted learning, which has impacted their academic growth. Supporting students as they learn and grow through a pandemic is a unique challenge!
What Makes Teaching Elementary School Meaningful?
There are perks to being a teacher. Elementary educators can usually expect a consistent schedule and contract hours. Consistent work schedules and school breaks allow time to recharge, travel, and spend time with loved ones. Teachers also typically have health insurance, employee benefits, and employee assistance programs. For district-specific information on benefits or salary schedules, visit the human resources department website.
Being an elementary school teacher is one of the most meaningful jobs a person can have! Every day, teachers have the opportunity to impact the lives of their students. Teachers get to watch students as they learn new information, stretch their abilities, and develop their academic and social skills.
Many teachers say they love witnessing the ‘lightbulb moment’, or the moment students make sense of something complex. Getting to know a group of students and watching them grow throughout the year is rewarding. It is both an honor and a responsibility to be a teacher!