Teaching in Elementary Schools
Elementary school teachers carry a big load, teaching multiple subjects and managing the majority of the communication between the school and their students' parents. As an elementary school teacher, you can simplify your job responsibilities by applying the following 8 tips:
1. Get to Know Your Students and Their Families
Take the time to get to know each student in your class. Taking the time to listen and interact creates a foundation upon which your students' learning can effectively take place. When your students know that you truly care about them as individuals, they will be much more likely to put forth their best efforts in your class.
2. Communicate Clearly with Parents
Begin communicating with your students' parents even before the first day of the new school year. Let them know how you would like to be contacted when they have questions or concerns, and how you will be communicating information on a regular basis.
3. Incorporate Thematic Units of Study
As an elementary school teacher, your students will most likely spend the majority of their time in your classroom. Consider choosing a few thematic units to study over the course of the year that you can incorporate them into several different disciplines. For example, let’s say that you're passionate about butterflies. You can introduce the life cycle of the butterfly in science, but you can also weave the study of butterflies into your math, reading, and writing classes. In this way, you can make learning more fun and exciting for your students.
4. Assign Student Responsibilities in the Classroom
Let your students know that the classroom isn't just your classroom; it's also their classroom. And as such, they should have some responsibility for maintaining it. Assign jobs on a weekly basis, such as erasing the boards, straightening the books in the classroom library, passing out papers, and more.
5. Communicate Your Behavior Management System
You'll also need to have a system in place for dealing with behavioral issues. For example, you might use the traffic light system, with students on "green," "yellow," or "red." Or you might consider using a behavior chart or a positive reward system to help your students learn how to manage their own behavior.
6. Organize Your Space
As an elementary school teacher, you accumulate a lot of different materials and resources to use in your teaching. The more intentional you are about organizing these materials, the easier it will be to utilize them effectively. Particularly regarding items that you use only once or twice per year, or seasonal decorative items, it's important to clean and store them properly so that they can be easily accessed the following year.
7. Tips for Grading Papers
Elementary school teachers also have a lot of papers to grade. Stay on top of your work load by setting a deadline for yourself for each new set of papers. For example, create a "grade it within three days" policy for yourself, and stick to it. In addition, create systems for keeping sets of papers organized, and for collecting and grading work that is turned in late.
8. Start Each Day Off Right
Make sure that your students know what is expected of them upon arriving at school. For example, you might want them to put their coats and lunchboxes away, sharpen their pencils, and get started on morning seatwork before beginning your class-wide calendar routine. In addition, make a point of standing by your classroom door and welcoming each child by name. Starting each day in this positive manner makes a huge difference!
Elementary school teachers cover a wide range of material over the course of the school year. Make your job easier, and more enjoyable, by creating organizational and management systems that work for you and allow you to focus on the most important part of your job – engaging your students.