Teacher Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Teacher, or Classroom Instructor, is responsible for supervising, educating and supporting students to help them accomplish learning benchmarks. Their duties include planning lessons that target specific skills and concepts, managing classroom behavior to keep all students engaged in the lesson and providing individual support and feedback for their students.

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Teacher duties and responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of Teachers vary depending on the age and abilities of their students. Primary School Teachers typically have a heavier focus on social and formative skills, while Secondary and Postsecondary School Teachers focus on selecting and developing skills for specific career paths. Examples of their common duties and responsibilities include:

  • Establishing and enforcing rules of behavior for students in the classroom
  • Preparing lessons, units and projects to complete learning objectives
  • Establishing and communicating clear objectives for lessons, units and projects
  • Adapting teaching methods and materials to meet the interests and learning styles of students
  • Encouraging students to explore learning opportunities and career paths
  • Creating, assigning and grading various assessments for students, including tests, quizzes, essays and projects
  • Working with students one-on-one when they need extra help or attention
  • Tracking and evaluating student academic progress
  • Leading parent-teacher meetings
  • Maintaining positive relationships with students, parents, coworkers and supervisors
  • Managing student behavior
  • Creating a safe, respectful and inclusive classroom environment
  • Communicating regularly with parents
  • Helping students improve study methods and habits
  • Administering tests to evaluate students’ progress
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What does a Teacher do?

Teachers lead classrooms at public and private schools to guide their students and help them understand academic information. They write curriculum, create worksheets, give lectures and guide students through interactive lessons, using different teaching styles to reinforce essential information. Teachers supervise the class throughout lessons and use techniques to correct unfocused behavior without distracting other students. They build trust with students as a way to manage their behavior and encourage engaged participation in the coursework.

Teachers use grading rubrics to assign scores to assignments and give feedback that their students can apply to future lessons. They track each child’s progress and meet with them to determine how to reach testing benchmarks. Teachers may also meet with parents to collaborate on additional support and accommodations.

Teacher skills and qualifications

A successful Teacher needs to have a strong set of skills in order to perform their required job duties, such as:

  • Ability to develop lesson plans and successfully instruct students in theories, methods and tasks
  • Ability to effectively communicate with others and clearly express complex ideas
  • Proficient active listening skills to understand and adapt to students’ various learning needs
  • Knowledge of appropriate learning psychology, styles and strategies
  • Strong public speaking and oral presentation skills
  • Excellent organization and time management skills
  • Advanced technology skills to track student attendance and grades and present creative lessons
  • Leadership skills and patience for working with students of all ages

Teacher salary expectations

Teachers make an average of $17.51 per hour in the United States. This rate may vary depending on the state and type of school, such as public, private or charter schools.

Teacher education and training requirements

In the United States, education requirements for Teachers may vary by state. In most cases, employers look for candidates who have graduated from a four-year college or university with a degree in a discipline related to the subject they plan to teach. Primary School Teachers might instead have an undergraduate degree specific to elementary education. Additionally, candidates may be required to have appropriate teaching certifications and licensure in accordance with applicable state regulations. A quality candidate may also be enrolled in or have a master’s degree in education.

Teacher experience requirements

Teachers pursuing a postgraduate degree in education may have initial teaching experience through fellowship programs required to complete their education. Many new Teachers gain experience as Teacher Assistants or Assistant Teachers, which is something most employers look for in candidates. They also prefer applicants who have prior experience in the field or discipline they plan to teach. In some cases, professionals who have gained experience in a specific field, such as English or science, choose to obtain teaching certifications and licensure to become Teachers in those fields.

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Frequently asked questions about Teachers


What is the difference between a Teacher and a Tutor?

Teachers and Tutors are both educators who help students understand educational concepts, but the scope of their work is different. Teachers instruct groups of students using school guidelines for what subjects to teach in each unit. They manage a group learning environment and work to make education accessible to all of their students.

Tutors usually work one-on-one or in small groups with students who need additional help in a subject area. Students that want to improve their skills in a class can hire a tutor to receive personalized instruction and explanations of how to complete assignments. Tutors focus on one student at a time, adapting their teach9ing techniques to suit their mindset. They also teach study habits and test-taking techniques to help students retain and recall information when they’re back in the classroom.


What are the qualities of a good Teacher?

Good Teachers are hardworking, passionate, determined people who want to make a difference in their students’ education. They enjoy working with students in their grade range and can empathize with the challenges children experience when attending school. The best Teachers are personally invested in the success of their students, taking care to consider each student’s educational needs. They’re highly patient and can stay calm in hectic environments, deflecting disruptive behavior while maintaining a positive dynamic with students.


What are the daily duties of a Teacher?

Teachers work Monday through Friday during the school year, and may take additional responsibilities teaching Saturday school or summer school programs. Before going into work, Teachers prepare their lesson plans for each class. They practice presentations, make copies of worksheets and organize their materials. They begin the day by welcoming students to the classroom and supervising them during a basic warm-up activity. During the lesson, Teachers ask questions, respond to students and encourage them to participate. They proctor tests, lead discussions and organize projects. 

Teachers meet individually with students to discuss their interests and challenges. They provide accommodations for students to help them achieve their potential in the classroom. Additional responsibilities include helping with morning pickup and afternoon drop-off, supervising lunch and recess, chaperoning field trips and hosting after-school clubs.


Who does a teacher report to?

Teachers often have a high level of independence in their classrooms, but they do have to report to a few different managers to maintain accountability. Teachers are in charge of tracking the progress of each student and reporting back to the Head Teacher, Principal and Superintendent about their classroom outcomes and test scores. 

School Administrators may observe teachers in the classroom to provide feedback on their instruction techniques and share resources for managing students. Teachers receive instruction from Head Teachers about what curriculum and projects to focus on in class along with district guidelines. Teachers also communicate with the School Counselor to update them about their students’ emotional or behavioral challenges.

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