How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

The elementary school teacher... Merely mentioning the name of the career puts a smile on most faces. Hopefully we recall happy, care free times when there were few consequences.

However, for those considering a career as an elementary school teacher, you should know this occupation is not simply fun and games. To succeed as a teacher in the primary levels, you will need more than the right credentials. It takes a particular individual to thrive as an educator when surrounded with the demands of children and faced with the difficulty of producing high achieving students by the end of a school year.

It will also become evident not all students come to school with smiles on their faces. As an educator today, we are in the business of helping all succeed from the students with supportive families to those who are not so fortunate.
  1. The Basics:
    The basics are the prerequisites you will need to fulfill in order to be qualified for an elementary teaching certification.
    • You will need to have completed at least a bachelor's degree that may or may not be in the field of education.
    • Secondly, you will need to complete some form of elementary teacher preparation. There are alternative programs to certification, but most all accelerated programs that do not require prior teacher preparation are reserved for those teaching in secondary education.
    • Thirdly you will need to successfully complete a duration of student teaching where you will be observed and will develop and refine your first set of teaching skills.
    • Teacher Competency Examinations. Typically, you will need to successfully complete your state's selected competency examinations prior to beginning your student teaching.
    • Finally, you will need to search for employment. This last step is made significantly easier if your student teaching is successful in the eyes of your teaching mentor.

  2. How to Become a REAL Elementary School Teacher:
    • Clarify your motives for becoming an elementary teacher
      If you are looking for good dialogue or to discuss ways to reconstruct our society, about poverty and oppression, perhaps teaching in an elementary environment is not the best situation for you. If you are afraid of adults or intimidated of a cold business environment, you may not be providing your students with the skills needed to thrive in a harsh world.

      Many new elementary teachers find themselves trying to produce an environment where teacher and student are equal. Teachers quickly find their students walking all over them. It is important to realize students are in the classroom to learn and you are not an equal, you are their mentor.

    • There is nothing worse than a stagnant elementary teacher
      A quality elementary teacher continues to increase and refine competencies not associated with teaching. Look at it this way, if you are a person who thrives for more information and has an intrinsic curiosity when viewing the world, think of how much better you will be able to relate to your students.

    • Not all elementary curriculum is equal
      To become a truly efficient elementary teacher, you will need to continually practice developing curriculum and modify your materials and schedules to fit the needs of your students. Just as every person is different, the ideal curriculum for a class should alter as well. This is not to say that you should start from scratch every year, but the ability to customize your curriculum to meet your students' needs is a necessity for a highly effective elementary teacher.

    • Understand elementary school politics
      No matter where you begin teaching, there will always be other teachers and administrators who do not share your point of view. This may be common sense, but try to understand it is better not to be too critical of traditional teaching methods. Veteran teachers and administrators are your most valuable resource when first beginning your career as an educator. Respect their experience and you will learn important information as well as create a much more friendly working environment.

    • All good elementary teachers have thick skin
      As good as teacher education programs are these days, there will still be very much to learn when you enter the classroom. Learn to accept criticism without taking offense. You will learn valuable information about yourself. In addition, those who can help you will be more likely to lend their expertise in the future when they see you are open to constructive criticism.