A Career as an Elementary School Teacher

Bridget Hoban

Career Overview

Elementary school teachers work in public and private schools. They instruct children in grades one through six. Elementary children study subjects such as writing, reading, counting, and as they get older, subjects like history, math, or English. They also learn many social skills. Teachers use audio-visual aids, computers, and classroom handouts to help children learn. Sometimes they show films or videos or take children on field trips. They may teach students one-on-one or in groups. They organize the desks, bulletin boards, and computer stations to assist learning. Some elementary school teachers teach subjects such as art, music, physical education, etc. Teachers also attend in-service trainings to update their skills.

Career Skills and Interests

Communication: Express ideas clearly when speaking or writing. Read and understand written information. Listen to others, understand, and ask questions.

Reason and Problem Solve: Notice when something is wrong. Understand new information or materials by studying and working with them. Develop rules or follow guidelines for arranging items. Use math and science.

Work with tools and people. Must be able to manage things well.

Elementary teachers usually have social, artistic, and conventional interests.

Career Working Conditions

Interpersonal Relationships: Have a very high level of social interaction, interacting with children, parents, and other teachers. Communication is face-to-face on a daily basis. They are responsible for the health and safety of the students. Once in awhile they come in conflict with an angry student or parent.

Physical Work Conditions: Work indoors in classrooms, when not on playground. Close contact with children who may be sick. This can easily spread diseases and infections.

Work Performance: Must teach correctly. Errors may delay student learning. Make decisions that affect parents, students, and the schools reputation on a weekly basis.

*Usually work nine months during the year and have summers off. Some teach summer school.

Career Wages and Outlook

Minnesota median wage: $56,770

US median wage: $53,400

Teachers who have advanced degrees earn the most money. Teachers who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include health and life insurance, a retirement plan, and sick leave.

The overall student enrollment in elementary school is expected to increase. Employment is very large and annual openings are very high.

Career Related Occupations

  • Corrections
  • Childcare
  • Coaching
  • Probation Officers
  • High School/ Middle School Teachers

Program of study- Early Childhood Education and Teaching

Program Overview

Early childhood education and teaching programs prepare people to work in schools and preschools. Typically, teaching children up to the third grade level. These programs include topics such as physical, social, emotional, and mental child development, child psychology, technology in the classroom, measurement, and subject matter such as math, reading, and art.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor degree programs in early childhood education. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.

Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college.

  • Child Development and Parenting
  • Teacher Aide
  • Teacher Assisting
  • Education Methodology
  • Psychology
  • Child Care

Program admissions vary. However, for all programs, you need good grades. You also usually need to complete some combination of the following requirements:

  • Praxis I (or some other exam that tests your general academic skills)
  • Core courses
  • Personal statement
  • Required general education courses

Program Typical Course Work

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Child Psychology
    •Curriculum and Instruction
    •Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities
    •Diversity in the Classroom
    •Educational Psychology
    •Family, Community, and School Relations
    •Guidance of Social Behavior
    •Measurement and Evaluation
    •Philosophy of Education
    •School Health Education
    •Teaching Strategies
    •Technology in the Classroom
  • Programs also include methods classes in the following areas:

  • Art
    •Language Arts
    •Math Education
    •Physical Education
    •Social Sciences
  • Related Programs

    Childcare assisting, childcare service management, education, curriculum & instruction.

    Schools that Offer my Program of Study

    Minnesota State University- Mankato

    St. Cloud State University

    Southwest Minnesota State University

    Winona State University

    St. Catherine University

    College Choice- Winona State University

    College Information-

    • 4 year university, located in Winona, MN.
    • 8,405 undergraduates: 479 graduates.
    • Small town- rural.

    Admission Requirements: 3.0 GPA, average ACT of 23.

    Expenses: Tuition In state: $7,080, Room and Board: $7,800, books and fees: $3,050, $20 application fee.

    Financial Aid: Scholarships such as Outstanding Academic Honor, WSU Foundation Board, Presidential Honor, Academic Awards.

    Housing: 16 Resident Halls and University Apartments. There are women and Co-ed halls. Students dine at university dining halls.

    Activities: Sports, choir, drama/ theater, band, newspaper, orchestra, radio, TV station, student government. Total of 186 clubs/

    Informational Interview

    My informational interview with Mrs. Sweet gave me a much better understanding of why a teacher truly likes to teach. Not all people go to college and leave with the job they went for. Mrs. Sweet was a business and finance woman who was a sub one day for an elementary class. Never thinking she'd be a teacher, she continued her education at MSU for her teaching degree. Subbing made her realize how much she enjoyed teaching and how good she was at it. As of today she has 2/3 of her masters degree completed. An elementary school teacher would be a great job for anyone who wants a set schedule, is a socializer, communicates well, and loves children.

    To reach my goals, I definitely would like to job shadow a variety of jobs. Tutoring gave me a better understanding of elementary teaching so I would love to find internships and other hands on work to get familiar with other career fields.

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