Elementary Teacher Training Programs and Requirements
Elementary teachers stimulate intellectual and social development of children in kindergarten through grade six. They do this each day by combining developmentally appropriate lesson plans with creative lectures, worksheets and crafts. Elementary teachers gain this professional expertise by completing a bachelor's degree program in elementary education.
Training Programs and Recommendations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree in elementary education is the benchmark requirement for employment at public and private schools (www.bls.gov). This degree must be obtained from an accredited teaching college or university as defined by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.
Traditional elementary education bachelor's degree programs combine general education courses, such as art, reading, mathematics, music and social science with professional education courses. These professional courses instruct aspiring teachers on various teaching methods, educational philosophies and psychological principles behind childhood learning. Student-teaching internships culminate bachelor's degree programs in elementary education and often last one semester.
Future elementary education teachers gain theoretical and practical teaching expertise by completing undergraduate degree programs in elementary education. Bachelor's degree programs lay a strong educational foundation and prepare graduates to sit for licensing examinations upon graduation.
Bachelor of Science Program
Elementary education bachelor's degree programs provide students with education's foundational theories, principles and strategies. Coursework prepares future educators to create and maintain a disciplined classroom as well as instruct and assess standard elementary school curriculum. Teachers learn how to create lesson plans, develop and assess tests and provide both one-on-one and group instruction. Many 4-year elementary education bachelor's degree programs do not enroll students into the education department until their sophomore year.
Upon graduation, students seek licensure from their state's Department of Education by sitting for the National Teacher Examination. All public elementary school teachers must be licensed in order to teach. Private schools are not bound by these licensing requirements.
Future elementary teachers gain job-related experience by completing student-teaching internships. These supervised internships are the final project for elementary education bachelor's degree programs and allow participants to apply their educational theories and practical skills in actual classrooms. This is done under the direction of an already licensed teacher who offers professional feedback on lesson plans, teaching styles and professional behavior.
Licenses and Certifications
All teachers, including elementary, require state licensure in order to teach at public schools in the U.S. Requirements vary in all 50 states, but most licenses are contingent upon completion of an accredited bachelor's degree program and an approved student-teacher experience as well as successful passage of any state-mandated teaching examinations.
Elementary teachers may seek licensure for grades K-3 or grades 1-6. Additional certification is necessary if elementary teachers specialize in literacy, speech or special education. Licensed teachers are required to complete continuing education credits each renewal cycle in order to maintain certification. Additionally, the BLS reports that many states require teachers to obtain a master's degree in education within a limited timeframe. .
Voluntary national certification is also available through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. According to the BLS, all states recognize this certification and may offer salary and benefit incentives for those who certify nationally. This certification also allows teachers to carry their state license from one state to another.
Additional Professional Development
Elementary teachers are bound by continuing education requirements that encourage professional development beyond their existing degree. Some teachers meet these requirements by taking professional seminars or workshops offered through their school district. Others may choose to pursue a master's degree program in elementary education. Either way, elementary teachers must always foster an organized and inspirational atmosphere for learning and maintain an open line of communications between teachers, parents and administrators.
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