If becoming a teacher is a career goal of yours, then you will need to obtain your bachelor's degree in elementary education. Of course, before you can begin working on your bachelor's degree course work you must first complete the necessary course work to obtain your high school diploma. Since colleges and universities will want copies of your high school transcript and your ACT scores, you will want to be sure that you apply yourself appropriately and receive the best grades and scores possible. Additionally, many colleges and universities may require students to earn a passing score on a basic skills test before they can be admitted into an educational degree program.
Once you have chosen a four year college or university that you would like to attend (and have gained admittance) you will begin completing a broad range of educational course work. Since elementary teachers are typically required to teach all of the subject areas, they will be required to receive training in social studies, science, math, language arts, and pedagogical techniques that apply to all subject areas. It will also be important for you to learn about child development, child psychology, and school policies and regulations.
To address these curriculum areas you will be required to complete classes such as: curriculum design, group management, global awareness, planning and assessment, at risk children, family and community relations, and children with special needs and disabilities. As you near completion of your bachelor's degree program you will be required to complete a semester of student teaching. During this semester, students will be required to practice what they have learned at the college level by working alongside an elementary mentor teacher. Successfully completing this semester of student teaching will show that you are capable of working with students, delivering appropriate instruction, performing duties pertinent to a school setting, handling all student assessments, and remaining professional at all times.
Keep in mind, this degree program will make it possible for you to teach students who are at the kindergarten through eighth grade level. A portion of your elementary education course work will focus on training you to work with children who are not capable of learning in a typical manner. You will also be trained to work with children who have a variety of disabilities and some children who are considered to be at risk for any number of reasons. You will also learn how to incorporate a variety of instructional methods (such as technology) into your lessons and how to properly handle conferences with parents or colleagues.
It is important to understand that before you will be able to teach in your own classroom you must earn a passing score on the licensing exams that are required by the state you plan to teach in. For most states, there are several exams that are focused on specific areas relative to the educational work force. Typically, this procession of licensing exams builds upon one another as you get closer to completing all educational requirements.
Shelly Christianson, Elementary Teacher
Each month we will be interviewing elementary education teachers and ask them the questions that our staff gets asked each month. These questions come from visitors of our website that are interested in becoming teachers and looking to learn more about the career.
Question: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Please tell us about how you first learned you wanted to teach kids.
Answer: My mother taught 1st grade for 20 years in the town I grew up in and she was even my 1st grade teacher. My father taught at the local community college. Growing up in a family of teachers is was something that I always enjoyed. I originally wanted to teach middle school but then I went to school with my mom when I was in high school and fell in love with the kids. After I graduated I went to college to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. I was lucky enough to do my student teaching at the elementary school I attended.
Question: We hear that teachers don’t have a typical work day, can you expand on that?
Answer: Every day is different for sure. You follow your lesson plans as best as you but it just always get accomplished. Also a typical day doesn’t end at 3pm when the bell rings. As an elementary teacher it isn’t your typical 9 to 5 job. I spend at least 2 hours, sometimes more grading papers at night and handling other administrative duties.
Question: What is the hardest thing about being an elementary teacher?
Answer: Being an actual teacher is the easy part. The biggest challenge I face is with the administrators of the school. Sometimes they don’t back you with the decisions that you make and take the side of the parents. On many occasions those decisions were not in the best interest of the student but the school had to follow the rules so they wouldn’t be liable.
Question: Can you go over your salary?
Answer: When I first started my salary was pretty typical of what you would make which is $35,000 per year plus benefits. I get salary raises each year which is based on the state I’m in. I have heard that some of the private schools in the area pay more however they aren’t eligible to retire after 20 years with a pension.
Question: What are some of things you wish you knew about before you became an elementary education teacher?
Answer: Even though I remember my mom doing lots of work each night but I never realized how much paperwork and grading went on. I remember thinking that if I ever became a teacher I’d get the assistant to do lots of the work. I still find myself even now doing 2-3 hours of work each night or after school. Another thing I wish I knew about was how involved the parents get in their kids’ education. I don’t want to make it sounds like parents shouldn’t get involved but the way they get involved is sometimes damaging to their learning process.