Career and Job Search Guide

Preschool, Elementary and Middle School Teacher

Teachers play an important role in the formative years of children. Teachers provide important instruction that enables children to develop intellectually and socially, and become productive adults.

Teachers help students learn math, English, science, and other subjects though individual and classroom instruction. They prepare and teach lessons and administer grades to evaluate student performance. They evaluate performance by testing students' knowledge and abilities on exams and written assignments. More school districts and government agencies are asking teachers to look for other ways to evaluate student performance other than using standardized tests. Teachers must also discipline misbehaving students, consult with parents about their child's academic progress, and prepare report cards.

Teachers use visual aids or adopt a hands on approach to learning to help students develop critical thinking skills and solve problems. For example, a teacher could use board games to help kids learn how to add and subtract. Teachers use more sophisticated computers and science equipment to teach older kids. Teachers also organize group projects to facilitate student learning. Teachers prepare students for the future by teaching them about new technology, helping them develop critical thinking skills, and organizing group projects.

Preschool, kindergarten, and elementary teachers serve an important development role for children. The lessons children learn in their early developmental years can impact them throughout their adult lives, contributing to failure or success. These teachers introduce students to the math, science, social studies, as well as other subjects.

Preschool teachers use fun activities to teach children very basic language, social, vocabulary, and math skills. For example, they may teach children how to count by using blocks that can be stacked. Preschool teachers utilize a less structured teaching approach, such as one on one instruction, group activities, hands on learning, and creative activities. Kindergarten teachers then begin to teach children about phonics, numbers, the alphabet, and science awareness.

Elementary school teachers usually teach children in one classroom numerous subjects. However, at some schools, teachers specialize in one subject and teach many classes. Some schools have classrooms full of students at different learning levels.

Middle school teachers and secondary school teachers specialize in one subject such as English or math, enabling students to learn more about specific topics. Vocational education teachers, also known as career and technical teachers, teach students subjects that might lead to future jobs such as auto repair, business, and technology. They often supervise programs intended to provide students with internships at local businesses. Middle school teachers might provide students with career advice.

Teachers also supervise study halls, extracurricular activities, and homerooms, as well as take students on field trips. They also help students with disabilities and mental health problems or refer them to professionals who can help them. Teachers attend and participate at education conferences.

Teachers use computers to provide students with more learning opportunities. Students can use the internet to communicate with students from all over the world as well as conduct research. Computer software programs can be used to improve math and English skills. Teachers must stay up to date with current technology to teach students about it.

Teachers work with students from diverse ethnic, religious, and racial backgrounds. Some schools train students about the different cultures of students they encounter, and some teachers implement multi-culturalism into their lessons.

Site-based management, a popular trend in some states, allows teachers and parents to determine school policies such as budget allocations and curriculum to be taught.

Work environment. Teaching can be very difficult since teachers deal with so many misbehaved and unmotivated students. Teachers have to deal with school violence, bullying, budget cuts, and crowded classrooms. Teaches are also held accountable for student performance, and public school teachers usually have little control over what is taught in their classes. However, teaching can be very rewarding.

Teachers employed by private schools teach smaller classes and have input about what is taught. Private schools selectively admit students, so students are usually more motivated and prepared for vigorous study.

Teachers usually work by themselves, but more schools now permit teachers to work in teams to develop their teaching skills.

Teachers usually work more than 40 hours a week. Kindergarten and preschool teachers sometimes work part time hours. Teachers usually work 9 months a year with 3 months of summer off. Teachers working in school districts with year round courses usually work 8 weeks and then enjoy a week of vacation, and a 5 week winter break. Preschool teachers working for day care centers usually work all year.

Teachers can receive tenure usually after 3 years of teaching experience. Tenured teachers cannot be fired without due process.