Grading papers, designing fun and educational lesson plans and creating a classroom that's warm and friendly are only a few teacher responsibilities. She must also communicate with parents about student progress, perform administrative tasks such as attendance and report cards and take on the role of mediator and counselor, when needed. A teacher wears many hats all day, every day -- she's a new breed of Superwoman. Her main goals are to help students progress in their academics, learn to take responsibility for their assignments and encourage necessary life skills that carry into adulthood.
Help Students Learn
People don't usually become teachers for the money, though the pay is not bad. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for an elementary school teacher in 2010 was $51,380. However, many teachers choose their careers because they genuinely want to help students learn. To do this, they try to make classroom learning interesting and motivating. Without teachers who work diligently to create thought-provoking lesson plans and find ways to make academic content come to life, students lose interest. One of the main purposes of becoming a teacher is to help students get excited about learning.
Build Strong Student-Teacher Relationships
Becoming a teacher means you'll go the extra mile to make sure your students can relate to you as an educator, mentor and friend. Teachers must be approachable so students feel comfortable talking to them about their academic progress, peer-to-peer relationships and classroom needs. According to a research study conducted by Texas A&M, students who have a favorable relationship with their teachers are more likely to exhibit positive classroom behavior, study hard and persevere than those who don't have a supportive teacher-student relationship.
Encourage Students to Develop Character
A teacher is a role model who exhibits positive character traits and teaches them to her students. She should be loyal, kind, self-controlled, compassionate, forgiving, honest and trustworthy. By modeling a life of integrity, she shows students how to resolve conflicts, express empathy and respond to situations responsibly. One of a teacher's purposes is to instruct students in ethical behavior, discourage lying, cheating, stealing and bullying. Teachers often spend more time with their students than parents spend with their children, so a teacher's values carry a ton of weight.
Becoming a teacher is definitely about the students, but it's also about you. The satisfaction you get when you see the lights come on in a student's eyes or the joy you feel when a student says, "Thank you," make it all worthwhile. Teaching careers also offer added personal benefits such as summers off, holidays, career development opportunities, autonomy in the classroom, flexible schedules, versatility and more time with family due to afternoon dismissals. Perks shouldn't be the main reason for choosing a career in education, but if you already love working with students and have the skills it takes to be an effective educator, the added benefits may lead to long-term career satisfaction.
2016 Salary Information for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned a median annual salary of $55,480 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned a 25th percentile salary of $44,220, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $70,600, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,565,300 people were employed in the U.S. as kindergarten and elementary school teachers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Texas A&M: Supportive Teachers Play Critical Role in Children's Academic Success
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Career Trend: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images