Perhaps above all, a great elementary school teacher needs patience and compassion—but there are many other skills that are essential to teaching success. Some can be learned right away and some only developed over time. Study.com compiled the required skills and abilities needed to become an elementary school teacher according to the O*NET Resource Center, which compiled results from a survey of teachers, occupational experts, and occupational analysts.
Elementary school teachers play an important role in shaping how students learn and can have a lasting impact on students' lives even beyond the classroom. Being an educator has always been a challenging vocation, but those obstacles have been compounded by teacher shortages and various educational restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. As educators and administrative staff experienced burnout throughout the pandemic, this led to many of them changing careers and exploring other industries.
Low salaries along with the long hours required, both in and out of the classroom, have also been significant factors in the drop in new teachers. A 2022 report from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education shows that in the early 1970s, close to 200,000 education degrees were awarded annually. In 2018-19, that number was less than 90,000, largely due to students obtaining degrees in other wide-ranging industries.
Elementary and middle school teachers must earn a bachelor's degree in education and be certified by the state in which they chose to work. Requirements do vary by state; some require student teaching or field experience, and state-mandated skills assessment tests. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers help students with early learning concepts, oftentimes by using a hands-on approach to engage students and keep them curious and focused. These educators help students to understand problem-solving and how to develop critical thinking skills.
Read on to learn which eight skills are some of the most important for elementary school teachers to have.