Teaching is becoming an increasingly diverse job with a wide range roles and responsibilities. You may find yourself taking on the demanding role of surrogate parent when students come to you for advice. Your principal might also want to give you challenging leadership responsibilities, such as mentoring new teachers. In the classroom, you'll often have to switch between fulfilling what you may consider a responsibility and taking on a role. A responsibility is usually a concrete task that teaching requires you to do, while a role goes beyond the boundaries of a single task.
Lessons and Instruction
As a teacher, you're responsible for planning and organizing your students’ lessons. Although there are guidelines to follow, you have to decide how you're going to deliver the information. So if you're an elementary school teacher, you may have to teach several core subjects. Writing, social studies and math might all be on your plate. You'll probably need to decide how to use your school's learning resources. An effective instruction plan could have you alternating between lectures and group or individual activities.
You'll be responsible for making sure your students are learning what they need to. This means you'll prepare them for standardized tests, but you'll also keep track of how they're performing on assignments. An important part of this responsibility is intervening when necessary. Say a student is performing poorly on reading comprehension assignments, pop quizzes and classroom tests. You may refer him to a specialist, such as a literacy or reading coach. You might also spend some extra time explaining lessons and coming up with different ways to approach them.
Your students will look up to you as an example of how they should be – maybe not as a child, but certainly as an adult. You could be a source of inspiration or a role model for many kids. This is one of the unspoken roles of a teacher, since you assume the position of classroom leader. Students may ask you for advice about things outside of the classroom, such as how to deal with siblings or bullies.
While you're teaching your students, you're also serving as their caretaker. It's a role you'll likely share with others at your school. In a sense, you take the place of your students' parent(s). If a kid gets sick or has an accident, you'll make sure he gets the medical care he needs. You may also need to be attentive to signs of possible abuse and report it if it's serious. Kids might also want to talk to you about their lives like you're a second parent or a good friend.
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 Occupational Outlook Handbook: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook Middle School Teachers
- National Center for Education Statistics: Fast Facts
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Career Trend: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Helen Akers specializes in business and technology topics. She has professional experience in business-to-business sales, technical support, and management. Akers holds a Master of Business Administration with a marketing concentration from Devry University's Keller Graduate School of Management and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles.