Elementary Teacher Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

An Elementary Teacher, or Elementary School Teacher, is responsible for teaching fundamental subjects to children in grades K-5. Their duties include creating lesson plans, grading homework and tests and answering questions from students.

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Elementary Teacher Duties and Responsibilities

Elementary Teachers should be able to manage a classroom, communicate and teach one or more subjects clearly and effectively and follow school procedures. They are responsible for monitoring each student’s progress and providing extra mentorship to those who need it. They should also enforce school rules and encourage good student behavior in and out of the classroom. Other Elementary Teacher duties include:

  • Giving and grading assignments, homework and tests
  • Helping students prepare for standardized testing
  • Overseeing students during recess, lunch and other activities
  • Talking to parents about their children’s progress
  • Meeting and working with other teachers and supervisors to discuss school policies
  • Working some evenings and weekends to create lesson plans and grade assignments

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What does an Elementary Teacher do?

Elementary Teachers work for elementary schools to teach children about a variety of subjects, including math, science, English or language arts and history. They adhere to state and local curriculum requirements to create lesson plans for specific grade-levels. Their job is to create a daily schedule for their students, use whiteboards or similar equipment to write examples and draw diagrams to aid their students’ understanding and discipline students if necessary. They may also be responsible for tutoring students individually or in small groups when they need additional help to learn about a subject.

Elementary Teacher Skills and Qualifications

A successful Elementary Teacher will understand the basic subjects taught in grade school and be comfortable teaching classes to grades 1 through 6. Teachers should also understand childhood development and be able to communicate effectively with children ages 5 through 12. They will also need other skills to succeed, including:

  • The patience to teach children of all levels and backgrounds
  • The ability to communicate in ways students will understand, as well as with parents and administrators
  • Confidence speaking in front of groups and enforcing classroom rules
  • The creativity to create engaging lesson plans and inspire students to learn
  • The physical and mental stamina to keep up with high-energy grade school students

Elementary Teacher Salary Expectations

Elementary Teachers earn, on average, $19.04 an hour. Typical salaries may vary, depending on years of experience, geographic location and school type (whether it is public or private).

Elementary Teacher Education and Training Requirements

Elementary Teachers typically have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, early childhood development or a similar field. They might also have a degree or specialization in a certain topic, such as math or English. If an Elementary Teacher has not received an education-related bachelor’s degree, they might complete a teacher education program or work under the supervision of another teacher to gain experience.

Requirements vary by state, but nearly all Elementary Teachers must have a license or certification to teach in their state of residence. They might need to take professional development courses throughout their careers to keep their licenses. Most Elementary teachers do not need an advanced degree such as a master’s.

Elementary Teacher Experience Requirements

Elementary Teachers can start teaching students as soon as they get their bachelor’s degree and state certification. Many Elementary Teachers will have taught alongside an experienced teacher before getting their own classroom. Once they have gained this experience and become certified, Elementary Teachers might specialize in an individual grade or subject or teach different grades and subjects every school year. Successful Elementary Teachers might attend conferences or take professional development classes to improve their teaching methods and learn new technologies. Experienced Elementary Teachers can become lead teachers at a school.

Job Description Samples for Similar Positions

If you are looking for a different type of teacher, educator or professional who works with children, similar job description samples include:

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Frequently asked questions about Elementary Teachers


What is the difference between an Elementary Teacher and a Secondary Teacher?

The difference between an Elementary Teacher and a Secondary Teacher is the age groups they teach and their degree titles that qualify them to work with those age groups. For example, Elementary Teachers have a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, which enables them to go on to teach kindergarten through sixth grade. In individual states, this degree does allow teachers to work with students in seventh and eighth grade. In contrast, Secondary Teachers should have a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education that enables them to teach grades six through 12.


What are the daily duties of an Elementary Teacher?

On a typical day, an Elementary Teacher arrives at their classroom an hour before the start of the school day. They use this time to grade assignments, set up work stations or review lesson plans for the day. They greet students as they arrive to the classroom and make sure everyone puts their belongings in their cubbies. They may also pass out fun warm-up activities or allow students to have free time while they wait for everyone to arrive. After morning announcements, they review the day’s schedule with their students and collect homework assignments from the previous day.

Throughout the day, they devote set times to math, science, English and history. During lunch, they tidy up the classroom, prepare for afternoon lessons and catch up on grading. Before dismissal, they pass out homework assignments and answer questions. They also spend a few hours after school grading papers and preparing for the next day’s activities.


What qualities make a good Elementary Teacher?

A good Elementary Teacher is someone who loves kids and has a passion for teaching. They’re well-organized, which enables them to maintain a detailed grade book and makes it easy for them to find graded materials and assignment sheets. They should also have a personable nature that makes their students feel comfortable and they should have a degree of patience to help students overcome learning difficulties. Further, a good Elementary Teacher should also have a passion for learning, which motivates them to pursue continued education in a variety of subjects. This also helps them adapt to curriculum changes.


Who does an Elementary Teacher report to?

Elementary Teachers typically report to their school’s Assistant Principle with student concerns, curriculum ideas and other situations that require additional assistance. In certain schools, Elementary Teachers may report to a Head Teacher at their grade level for more trivial questions and concerns.

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