Primary Teacher Job Description

A Primary Teacher instructs elementary school students from ages five to 12 in various subjects. They develop lesson plans, grade class assignments and homework, administer tests and assess students’ performance. Primary Teachers also meet with parents to discuss students’ progress and attend meetings with school administration and other teachers as required. A Primary Teacher might also tutor students on an after school basis, if needed, and could also oversee extracurricular programs.

Primary Teachers can work for public or private elementary schools. As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for Primary Teachers, referred to as Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers by the BLS, is expected to grow 6 percent between 2014 and 2024. A continued increase in enrollment is expected during this decade, leading to more classes and an increased need for Primary Teachers. This need could be tempered by budget shortfalls in some areas.


Primary Teacher Duties and Responsibilities

To accomplish their primary goal of instructing students and measuring their academic progress, Primary Teachers perform several tasks. We reviewed several job listings and found the following among the core Primary Teacher duties and responsibilities.

Instruct Students

The main responsibility of a Primary Teacher is to provide instruction in math, English, social studies and other subjects in the classroom. Following federal and state standards for specific subject areas, Primary Teachers create lesson plans for classroom and homework assignments. Primary Teachers must take various learning styles and abilities into account when developing these plans and modify as needed. Primary Teachers must review and grade assignments and tests and log these grades for each students. This responsibility would include integrating educational technology as needed.

Assess Student Performance

It is up to the Primary Teacher to evaluate each student’s performance and academic growth. They must track quality of work, class participation, completion of assignments and understanding of the material being covered in each subject. They must ensure that students are meeting the grade requirements as set by their state board of education.

Manage Discipline in the Classroom

Primary Teachers must ensure a safe and effective learning environment for all students. They must address any unruly or disruptive behaviors from students and take disciplinary action when needed. Primary Teachers need to establish a set of rules for their classroom and maintain these rules throughout a school year. When necessary, Primary Teachers must involve school administrators, counselors and parents in addressing repeated or ongoing issues relating to problematic behaviors.


Primary Teacher Skills

A Primary Teacher should possess strong organizational, leadership and communication skills. They should be excellent team players, as they will often need to collaborate with school administrators, other teachers and parents, but also have the ability to work independently while teaching a classroom of 20-25 students. They should also be strong problem solvers when applying classroom management strategies. Good listening skills are also important for Primary Teachers. In addition to these general skills, a Primary Teacher could be expected by potential employers to possess the following skills.

Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Primary Teachers with these core skills. If you want to work as a Primary Teacher, focus on the following.

  • Developing engaging lesson plans and curricula
  • Preparing progress reports, report cards and student evaluations
  • Assessing students’ abilities and development
  • Implementing activities to stimulate student learning
  • Understanding and using educational technology
  • Possessing knowledge of core standards for various subject areas
  • Obtaining state teaching licensure

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Primary Teacher toolbox and broaden your career options.

  • Ability to adopt diverse teaching methods
  • Pursue professional development opportunities
  • Willingness to work outside of the classroom to help students build academic skills


Primary Teacher Resources

It is beneficial to research additional information if you are considering a career as a Primary Teacher that can give you insight into the challenges and responsibilities of this position. Below, we have provided links to online and print resources about this career.

On the Web

Education Week Teacher Blogs – A site offering dozens of blogs written by actual teachers, addressing topics relating to classroom experiences, policies, educational technology and opinions about this career.

TeachersFirst – An online community for teachers, TeachersFirst is a networking site where educators share lessons, career tips and more.

Runde’s Room – A Primary Teacher presents a blog providing suggested fun activities that can be incorporated into any elementary classroom.

3rd Grade Thoughts – A blog written by a 3rd grade teaches, offering classroom tips and strategies that Primary Teachers can apply to their own instructional styles.

Industry Groups

National Education Association (NEA) – A teaching advocacy organization offering professionals information about classroom management, lesson planning, teaching strategies, legislation and career advice.

Association of American Educators (AAE) – Established in 1994, AAE provides advocacy and support for teachers by offering professional development opportunities and links to teacher resources and publications.


The Organized Teacher: A Hands-on Guide to Setting Up & Running a Terrific Classroom, Grades K-5 2nd Edition – Covering everything from working with administrators to arranging field trips, this book offers a practical and real-life look at life as a Primary Teacher.

Everything a New Elementary School Teacher REALLY Needs to Know (But Didn’t Learn in College) – Primary Teachers can learn the real-life challenges of teaching and strategies for overcoming these challenges and finding success in this career.

Organized Teacher, Happy Classroom: A Lesson Plan for Managing Your Time, Space and Materials – Written by a 17-year veteran of the classroom, this book provides helpful information for teachers seeking ways to best manage their time and classroom materials.



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