How to Become an Elementary School Teacher, According to 3 People Who Did It

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Teachers’ role is essential in developing and shaping young minds. Children look up to their teachers and see them as role models. At the young age of 4 to 12, these students start learning mostly from their teacher. This stage is crucial in setting the groundwork for success.

Thus, being a teacher, especially of young age groups such as elementary students, can be challenging, yet very rewarding.

Here are some ways on how to become an elementary school teacher, according to three educators:

Dr. Ellenmorris Tiegerman

Ellenmorris Tiegerman

Founder & CEO, Tiegerman Schools

For those of you who are interested in becoming an Elementary school teacher, there are several pathways to consider:

The straightest direction is completing an undergraduate course in education and then a master’s degree with a specialization in elementary school education.

Almost every undergraduate program at a College or University has a “teacher track” that includes about 30 credits of undergraduate coursework. In most states around the United States, teachers are now required to get a master’s degree, usually with a specialization in elementary school education, before they apply for state certification to teach.

This is the straightest path, so have a clear sense of direction, and know for sure that you want to become an elementary school teacher.

The second pathway is a little more circuitous because you might already have majored in a completely different area and graduated with a bachelor’s degree.

Worry not, it is possible to take the undergraduate coursework in education by going back to college and then applying for a master’s program in education. This pathway clearly will take a little longer. Still, the result will be the same – you will complete your master’s degree in elementary school education and have the opportunity to apply for your teaching certificate.

The third pathway is that you are married and you have children.

You have had an epiphany experience and decided that you want to become an elementary school teacher. It is possible to take the appropriate coursework through an adult education program at the University that provides an option for evening and weekend courses.

This pathway will take longer, and given your home situation will be more complicated to accomplish, but the result again will be the same. You will probably complete your coursework in three or three and a half years instead of two, but you will be able to get it done and apply for your teaching certificate in elementary school education.

To sum up, you will need a master’s degree in elementary school education to teach.

Some states may allow new teachers to apply for a teaching certificate while they are in a graduate program, but eventually, you must have a master’s degree.

Teaching is an outstanding profession offering professionals careers that are meaningful, relevant, and exciting. There is nothing nobler than teaching children or adults with and without developmental disabilities.

Related: The Benefits of Being a Teacher

Delilah Orpi

Delilah Orpi

Literacy Specialist | Owner, Thrive Educational Services

If you are interested in becoming an elementary school teacher, there are quite a few steps you need to go through:

You have to get a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, which requires a 3-4 month internship in a classroom

This was the most valuable part of the program since you are mostly doing the job with a mentor. You also have to pass the certification exams in your state, which would include an elementary education exam and possibly ESOL or Special Education endorsements that vary by state. I had to take three exams to get my initial teaching certification in Florida. After this, I had to secure a job, and that was the hardest part.

It helps if you also have ESOL and Special Education experience and endorsements or certifications

Many schools look for this. I was only able to find work in Special Education, so I believe that it was essential to securing a teaching position. With the trend towards inclusion in the classroom, having the Special Education certification is a great benefit.

Find a mentor who can guide you once you start to look for work

Experienced teachers are full of helpful advice and connections which could help you find a position more easily.

Related: 75+ Great Questions to Ask Your Mentor

Cindy McKinley Alder

Author, 365 Teacher Secrets for Parents

When I thought that I wanted to become a teacher, I first worked in daycare, with preschoolers and then with the school-aged kids. I wanted to make sure I liked working with kids as much as I thought I would. (Luckily, I did!)

Then, I went to Eastern Michigan University to get a Bachelors’s Degree in Elementary Education. As part of the degree, students do pre-student teaching, which is doing isolated, prepared lessons in someone else’s classroom. It lets you see how it feels to teach in a classroom a bit. They set this up for me.

At the end of the degree, I spent an entire semester student teaching.

EMU placed me in a grade I was interested in teaching; they do this if possible. At first, I just observed the real classroom teacher and saw how she ran the classroom. Then, she gave me only one subject to take over for a week, more the next, and we worked our way up to me finally running the classroom for a few weeks.

Usually, she stayed in the room and offered feedback and suggestions and help. But also, sometimes, she left me alone, which was also nice to let me try things out and see how they’d go.

After student teaching, I subbed in the district that I wanted to teach in for a few months. Then, luckily, I got hired full time. I taught 1st grade my first year, 2nd grade my 2nd year, and 3rd grade my 3rd year. It was a LOT to learn as a new teacher for sure. But when I ended up settling in 2nd grade, I loved it.

I later went back to Eastern Michigan University to get a Masters Degree in the Teaching of Reading.

Being a teacher for the past 30 years has been the most rewarding career I could imagine.