Many people have fond memories of their elementary school teachers. For some people, they were the first educators to inspire them to learn about the world. For others, they offered care when they were neglected or opened up a world that felt restrictive and inaccessible. It is undeniable that elementary school education is crucial in the development of a child. Elementary education is widely considered to be the most important phase of any person’s educational journey. It provides a bedrock of knowledge and curiosity that has a great impact on an individual’s future.
Working as an elementary teacher is remarkably rewarding. You’ll have a hand in the inspiration and guidance of a new generation. But how exactly do you become an elementary school teacher? This brief guide should point you in the right direction.
In order to begin your teaching journey, you need to complete a bachelor’s degree. For the most part, a degree in an education-related field is preferred. You are allowed to specialize within your educational study, although elementary teaching requires more general child behavioral and interpersonal skill development. Within your degree, you will be expected to develop a good knowledge of educational legislation as well as national and state elementary curriculums.
Alternatively, you can seek a postgraduate educational qualification if you already have a degree. Many top universities offer master’s level postgraduate qualifications in elementary education that can help you switch careers. During the coronavirus pandemic, many postgraduate courses are based online. Some universities offer online courses as a specialty. Merrimack University is one such organization. Details of their courses can be found on their website: https://online.merrimack.edu/.
You won’t just get thrown straight into a teaching role as soon as you get a degree or postgraduate qualification. Instead, you’ll need to seek out classroom experience as a teaching assistant shadowing a licensed elementary teacher. Many degree courses in education will include teaching assistant placements. Students will need to complete a portfolio detailing their time shadowing a teacher. Seeking your own classroom experience can be a great deal harder. Some schools actively encourage teaching assistant mentorees as part of their hiring process. Finding a school like this is a great way of both getting experience and networking with potential employers.
All elementary school teachers need to be licensed in order to teach a class. Licensing procedures are different for each state, but there are some defining features common to them all.
Prospective teachers will need to pass a background check to make sure that they are not a danger to any children. They will also need to complete a test that evaluates their decision making and interpersonal skills. Some states require applicants to complete a general educational test on top of this.
In order to start the process, you’ll need to apply to your state’s board of education. They will determine whether you are qualified to seek licensure and work with you to kick things off.