Elementary school teachers are responsible for the educational and emotional development of children in the beginning of their academic years. Most elementary school teachers instruct one class of children in several subjects; although some of them teach one special subject (usually music, art, reading, science, or physical education) to a number of different classes at different times. Elementary school teachers can be found at both the public and private school level. Their wide variety of day-to-day duties include preparation of course objectives and outlines; preparation and correction of tests; assignment of lessons; establishment of class rules of conduct; maintenance of order in the classroom and on the playground; and discussion of academic and behavioral issues with parents. At various times of the year, teachers are also asked to coordinate class field trips. Most elementary school teachers enjoy long holiday breaks and summers off; however they are often required to stay late after school and bring work home with them at night.
Education, Certification, Licensing
In terms of formal education, an aspiring elementary school teacher needs at least a bachelor’s degree. The degree does not necessarily have to be in the field of education, although most states require a specified number of education credits be earned over the course of study in order to teach in a public school. An increasing number of colleges and universities are now offering degree programs with majors in elementary education. A typical curriculum for future elementary school teachers is a well-rounded one, due to the wide variety of course material they will usually need to teach. Courses will typically include mathematics, social science, physical science, art, music, and literature; as well as prescribed professional education courses, such as teaching methods, philosophy of education, and psychology of learning. Some states also require public elementary school teachers to earn a master’s degree within a certain amount of time after starting to teach.
Every state, as well as the District of Columbia, requires teachers to be licensed in order to teach in public schools in that state, although licensure is not required for teachers in most private schools. In most states, licensure is granted by the State Board of Education to individuals who have passed all educational requirements (usually a bachelor’s degree and completion of an approved teacher training program) and who complete a test based on competency in basic reading, writing and teaching skills. Licenses need to be renewed periodically, and most states require teachers to complete a minimum number of hours of continuing education in order to renew them. Private schools are generally exempt from meeting state licensing standards, although these schools generally prefer candidates who have at least a bachelor’s degree in childhood education. Private schools associated with religious institutions also desire candidates who share the values that are important to the institution.
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