Good Advice: How To Be an Elementary School Teacher
This post has been updated as of December 2017.
Being an elementary school teacher is one of the most admirable roles an educator can hold—at the same time, it’s no doubt challenging. You’re required to produce results for your district and are perhaps even evaluated based on those statistical results and data analysis. You have to consider state standards and test results, in addition to your students’ overall well-being and development. And, of course, you want your students to love coming to school.
It’s a lot, but what you put into it, you get out of it. And if you’re reading this, we’d venture to guess that you’re already doing an incredible job. To up your game even more, here are a few tips and strategies.
5 tips for being a successful elementary school teacher:
Consistency is key
Effective teachers are a reliable presence in their students’ lives. Students need to know what to expect from teachers and when they can expect it. Young people thrive on consistent schedules, so be sure to implement one in your classroom that encompasses academic subjects, arts, exercise, and quiet time—and remind them that you’re here to help them along the way.
Establish classroom rules and post them on the wall
Setting behavior expectations is a fundamental part of classroom management as well. Try choosing short phrases that set clear expectations for conduct such as listening, being kind to others, and following directions, then compile these into a short list of classroom rules that are posted where students can always see them.
To help students understand the class rules, model them on the first day of school. For example, make a list of ways to show respect for others—and explain the related rewards and consequences. Posted classroom rules are an effective visual aid for students to remember how they should behave in class.
Get to know your students
With each new bunch of students will come 20, 30, or even 40 new personalities. It’s important for children to feel that their teacher cares about them individually for obvious reasons. Not sure how to convey that? A simple act like greeting students at the classroom door is a great way to connect. Learn your student’s names as quickly as possible and include some getting-to-know-you activities in the first few days of the school year.
Some teachers even send home a “Beginning of the Year Survey” that students fill out with their parents, answering questions about their learning style, likes and dislikes, reading preferences, and goals. By getting to know everyone in your classroom, you’ll be better equipped to teach to students’ strengths, identify and intervene on problems early, and find a balance for the different learning styles and personalities in the class.
Keep the lines of communication open
Elementary school teachers who expect students to listen to and respect them must provide them with the same courtesy. Asking students questions and paying close attention to their answers helps you adjust your instruction to suit students’ strengths and weaknesses and supports development of soft skills.
A successful teacher’s students will feel comfortable coming to them with questions or problems, confident they’ll get a fair chance. Good communication with teachers also builds trust in students as they continue their educational journey.
Make learning fun
One of your main duties as an elementary school educator is to provide an educational foundation for the future. At the same time, you want students to look forward to entering the classroom each day. Fortunately, you can use many strategies to create a learning environment that engages students and ignites their intellectual curiosity. Here are just a few:
- Develop and use creative lesson plans
- Experiment with instructional methods such as project-based learning and flipped classrooms
- Provide options for every type of learner, whether that involves students working quietly on their own or hands-on activity
- Use social media as a classroom tool
Incorporating unique activities into the daily routine helps students to find learning enjoyable rather than a chore.