Career Story: Elementary School Teacher

Elementary School Teacher

Job Title: Elementary Teacher

Education: BS in Marketing and Management •• Post Baccalaureate in Elementary Education

Previous Experience: While working on my Post Bacc degree, I worked as a substitute teacher, which helped with learning how to manage children. I was able to become familiar with the curriculum and meet the principals from various schools which helped in the interview process.

Job Tasks: An elementary school teacher teaches children from ages 5 to 12, generally. Typically tasks consist of planning a school year from a basic layout of the entire year (called an "educational map") down to daily activities. Each lesson/activity has to be written out in detail with learning objectives, tasks listed, materials and expected outcomes, along with estimated time of lesson must be written. This is so that a substitute would be able to take over in an emergency or the principal would be able to look at the plans and see what lesson is being taught, to see if objectives are being met and the teacher has properly thought out the learning plan.

In addition to planning, teachers are responsible for record keeping of grades, grading assignments, determining desired outcomes and if not met, re-teaching lessons. Classroom management is very important and it includes maintaining behaviors, schedules and procedures within the classroom environment.

Also, teachers must maintain parental contact, participate in extracurricular activities, attend staff meetings, continue professional growth in the form of taking classes that improve your ability to teach. Teachers must be observed teaching lessons by principals to show their teaching ability and classroom management skills. Classroom maintenance is primarily the teachers responsibility with duties such as maintaining supplies, keeping the classroom clean, appealing and organized.

Teachers are legally bound to report anything that may harm a child whether there is proof or not. Teachers must be state certified, FBI fingerprinted and maintain the current certificate by completing a required number of education related courses.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are interacting with children and helping them learn. Teachers are allowed the freedom of designing each lesson any way they want as long as the learning objective is met. As a teacher, you touch the lives of many children and have the opportunity to positively impact their learning.

The worst part of the job is dealing with behavior issues and non-supportive parents. There is a lot of grading, planning, meetings, classes and all of these require time outside the regular work day. You are required to meet all learning objectives, but there is never enough time. Politics inevitably come into play with distribution of money, teacher pay and benefits, support and classroom maintenance. You are required to maintain an image of perfection. Mistakes are often looked upon as inability, rather than a human quality.

Job Tips:
1. Teachers are needed all over the world, but just having a certificate does not mean you will get a job.

2. Background is a huge factor because it shows that you have more to bring into teaching than someone right out of college.

3. Also, your presence; posture, speaking ability, intelligence when answering questions and knowledge of the grade level curriculum is very important during an interview.

4. Examples of lessons that you may have taught during student teaching, a portfolio of samples, pictures, and comments from cooperating teachers and principals are also very impressive and show your ability to teach and work with children. Many employers may ask you to teach a lesson during the interview. Your ability to handle this task could make or break your interview. If you are not required to teach a lesson, coming prepared and offering to give them an example of your abilities by teaching a very short lesson, could potentially be very impressive to future employers.

Additional Thoughts: You must really enjoy working with children and be able to take the authoritative role in a loving, fair and controlled manner. You must be organized, timely and willing to work outside the regular work day. No two situations are ever the same, so a teacher must be flexible enough to adhere to all situations presented.

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