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What is Elementary Education?
Elementary education instructors will provide planning, education and structure to a classroom setting, evaluating their students and providing direction and growth as well as support during important developmental years. Elementary school teachers are responsible for monitoring the progress of their students and providing feedback to parents regarding the student's strengths and weaknesses. Elementary education instructors work in public or private schools and provide a comprehensive education through structured classes.
An elementary education degree is designed to educate potential teachers the methods, theories and practices involved in teaching kindergarten through sixth grade. The normal degree pursued is a bachelor's, which allows the graduate to become a teacher. Higher levels degrees can be obtained to pursue administrative positions. With additional coursework elementary education majors can also be qualified to teach special classes, such as English as a second language or accelerated learning. Most programs will also assist in providing practical experience through internships and other means. Coursework will focus on basic education skills, child development, and instruction.
Some classes may include:
- Human Relations
- Language Arts Instruction
- Technology for Teaching and Learning
- School and Society
- Learning, Cognition and Assessment
Employment Opportunities and Requirements
Individuals pursuing a career in elementary education at public institutions require licensure. Special forms of licensure may obtained by graduates to immediately begin teaching, though eventually will have to earn standard licensure to continue. National certification is also available and demonstrates a higher level of competency in instruction than a license and can allow for the transfer of a license from one state to another. Elementary education requires individuals to work well with children, be patient, have excellent communication skills, and be organized in order to properly execute planned curriculums.
Teachers who take on the additional coursework to qualify for specialty instruction tend to have a higher rate of pay than teachers who do not. Classes requiring such specialty instruction, including ESL classes, accelerated learning classes, and courses for learning disabled children, are on the rise and as such the demand for qualified teachers is similarly increasing. Teacher's who specialize in working with disabled children may require more extensive study than others, as well as the ability to create a study plan for individual students.
Some skills necessary for a successful elementary education teach are:
- Critical Thinking
Teachers, especially elementary school teachers, are typically under more scrutiny than other professions due to their daily interaction with children. The importance of quality instruction during elementary school years is pivotal to their development, and it cannot be stressed enough how much patience, care, and understanding is required to work with children. An aspiring teacher who finds he or she is unable to work with young children should consider a different career rather than adversely affect the lives of developing youths.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Job growth for elementary school teachers is expected to increase over the next decade in order to alleviate increasing student to teacher ratios and overall increases in enrollment. Growth will vary by region due to population distribution with urban centers and larger cities typically having higher employment opportunities. The average salary for an elementary teacher is $49,000 per year. The average starting salary for an elementary school teacher with a bachelor's degree is $34,000 per year.
For more information about a career in teaching, check out The Single Most Comprehensive Guide to a Teaching Career post on our blog.