Primary School Teacher Job Description
The main role of primary schoolteachers, also referred to as elementary schoolteachers, is to instruct students in grades K-5 in all subject areas, such as English, math, and science. Primary schoolteachers create daily lesson plans, conduct classroom discussions, administer and grade tests, assign and review homework, and complete individual student assessments. They also arrange parent-teacher conferences and meetings to discuss student progress, supervise after-school activities, attend staff meetings, and participate in professional development programs to keep abreast of the latest teaching methods and practices.
Primary schoolteachers can work for public or private schools. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2016-2026 the employment growth rate for primary schoolteachers is expected to be 7 percent. Steady increases in public school enrollment leading to the need for more classes is believed to be the main reason for this projected growth; however, state and local budgeting limitation could adversely affect this growth rate.
Primary Schoolteacher Duties and Responsibilities
Primary schoolteachers must complete several tasks in order to satisfactorily meet all job obligations. We have closely examined several job listings and have found the following to be those responsibilities most commonly mentioned for primary schoolteachers:
Develop Lesson Plans and Instruct Students
The primary role of this occupation is to develop the materials and plans needed to teach students in various subject areas. Primary schoolteachers select reading and other materials, develop classroom activities, create classroom lectures, and choose topics of discussion. They apply appropriate teaching strategies for each subject and use methods to keep students engaged, encouraging class participation. They also assign homework and give and grade tests.
Assess Student Performance and Behavior
Primary schoolteachers use keen observation skills to assess each student in the classroom. They chart behaviors and develop disciplinary programs to handle disruptive or unruly behavior. Primary schoolteachers also assess the progress of students’ understanding of topics and their progress to determine if they are learning at an acceptable level and pace.
Oversee and Attend Meetings
Primary schoolteachers have some responsibilities outside the classroom as well. They must contact parents with concerns or issues relating to their child, hold teacher-parent meetings as needed, submit reports to administrators, and attend staff meetings to learn of any school policy changes, teaching approaches, or other relevant topics.
Primary Schoolteacher Skills
Strong verbal and written communication, motivational, organizational, and leadership skills are among those most essential to primary schoolteachers. In this role, individuals should be energetic and enthusiastic, displaying a high level of tolerance, patience, and support. They should be good listeners and enjoy working with children. Primary schoolteachers should be comfortable interacting with those of various backgrounds and professional levels, from parents to school administrators. Besides these important abilities, primary schoolteachers must possess the following skills:
- Creating lesson plans and assisting in curriculum development
- Applying various instructional strategies
- Completing student progress reports
- Managing classroom activities and student behavior
- Communicating with parents and guardians
- Attending professional development classes and programs
Primary Schoolteacher Tools of the Trade
Success as a primary schoolteacher depends on one’s ability to utilize several tools of the trade. If you wish to seek a career as a primary schoolteacher, it is helpful to have knowledge of the following:
- Educational technology – from laptops to smart boards, classrooms are increasingly turning to technology to enhance students’ learning experience
- Organizational teaching software – programs such as Engrade and MySchoolBinder are helpful to primary schoolteachers for everything from developing lesson plans and projects to charting student behavior
Primary Schoolteacher Education and Training
A bachelor’s degree in education is required to teach at the primary school level in both public and private school settings. Primary schoolteachers must also obtain certification by passing required exams. Requirements for teacher licensing or certification vary from state to state. Alternative programs, in which individuals can begin teaching under supervision before achieving certification, are offered in some states.
Primary Schoolteacher Salary
As reported by the BLS, primary schoolteachers earn a median annual salary of $55,800. Those in the lowest 10th percentile of this salary range earn $36,560, while those earning in the top 10 percent can make $88,590. Northeastern and West Coast states tend to pay the highest mean annual salaries for this occupation, led by New York ($77,330), Connecticut ($76,740), and District of Columbia ($74,710). Those employed in Massachusetts and California are not far behind D.C., at $74,470 and $74,270, respectively.
Primary Schoolteacher Resources
It is helpful to review as many resources as possible when considering a career. Below we have provided links to books, blogs, and professional associations so you can learn more about becoming a primary schoolteacher.
National Education Association (NEA) – From classroom resources to teaching advice, this professional organization is a great support and reference for primary schoolteachers and teachers at other levels.
Association of American Educators (AAE) – This association has been providing professional development opportunities, publications, certification support, and more for teachers since 1994.
TEACH Magazine – A professional online publication containing articles addressing current trends, best practices, advice, and teacher development overviews relevant to primary schoolteachers.
Education Week – The teacher section of this online publication provides articles written by teachers and other professionals covering teaching strategies, technologies, classroom management practices, and so much more.
What the Teacher Wants – Presenting blogs written by a current first-grade teacher and a guest blogger with years of teaching experience, this site gives a personal look at the teaching strategies and daily tasks of a primary schoolteacher.
Teach123 – From lesson planning ideas to best practices in teaching, time management, and more, this blog gives a detailed and personal look at what it takes and means to be a primary schoolteacher.
Everything a New Elementary Schoolteacher REALLY Needs to Know (But Didn’t Learn in College) – Filled with great tips covering everything from first-day jitters to parent-teacher meetings, this book offers a great glimpse into the daily life of a primary schoolteacher.
Your First Year: How to Survive and Thrive as a New Teacher – A detailed and insightful book offering overviews of classroom management, lesson planning, and the collaborative practices needed to be a successful teacher. One of the authors is a primary schoolteacher and gives information based on her own experiences.
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