What Do Elementary School Teachers Do?

There is no doubt that teaching is an art form.  There is not a prescribed list of tasks to complete every day to make up the daily life of an elementary school teacher.  The fact that teachers are dealing with individuals, each with their unique personalities, backgrounds, needs, and learning styles makes the daily life of a teacher complex.

Elementary School is different from Middle and High School in many ways, the first being the amount of STUFF.  Walk into an elementary classroom, and the eye is bombarded with textures and colors.  The rainbows over the door, bean bag chairs and books in a reading corner, the art table filled with markers, crayons, and paper, puppets, games, and numerous lists and organizational tools are all items that separate the life of an elementary teacher from that of their colleagues.  Elementary teachers must be extremely neat and organized to balance and keep a peaceful, orderly environment amongst the sheer amount of things in their room.  Tidying up and putting things back is an essential part of the day.

The meat of the day is spent with the students.  Elementary teachers must have excellent classroom management skills to manage up to 30 or 40 small children at a time.  Lessons must be kept short and engaging, as attention spans are limited, especially at the primary level.  Usually, an elementary teacher doesn't spend a ton of time at the front the classroom talking, but coordinating activities, reading groups, learning centers, and projects.  They serve as facilitators in a classroom, rather than a lecturer. Not only must a variety of activities be scheduled, but the teacher also spends a lot of time dealing with non-educational issues-shoe tying, coat zipping, and inter-relational issues are all part of the teacher's day.

Elementary teachers are responsible for lesson planning and goal setting, skills which are learned while completing a MAT or other higher education degree.  It is important that accurate records are kept, and State Standards are adhered to, both for the sake of accountability, as well as a way to stay on track professionally.  Most schools provide a prep-time during the teacher's day where the students are at lunch, recess, or other class, where planning is accomplished.

In addition to working with the students, keeping a classroom, and planning lessons, elementary teachers must possess excellent interpersonal communication skills as they are required to work with parents.  Setting up and facilitating parent-teacher conferences is an important part of the job.  The best education happens when parents partner with the teacher in the child's education, and teachers must do their best to keep an active partnership with the parents.  Teachers will also be required to go to staff meetings, collaborating and working with colleagues to ensure that the school is a safe learning environment.  Teachers must submit accurate records and the correct paperwork for Individualized Education Plans, special education forms, and other tracking forms required by the school.

Days as an elementary teacher are filled to the brim, but for those who are called to the noble art of teaching, the impact made on the life of the students is worth the toil and hardship.