What does a Primary School Teacher do?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Primary school teachers often organize group projects for students.
Primary school teachers often organize group projects for students.

A primary school teacher teaches younger children, that, depending on different age categorizations around the world, may be 4 at the youngest or 12 at the oldest. In some countries, the common term is elementary school rather than primary. The elementary or primary school program educates children to prepare them for the upper grades of high school. The program of study he or she teaches will also depend on the area and its approved curricula.

Many primary school teachers teach every subject to their classes.
Many primary school teachers teach every subject to their classes.

Primary school teachers typically create lesson plans for their grade level based on meeting government standards. Usually a primary school program will place an emphasis on well-rounded activities such as reading, math, language arts, physical education, art and science. A primary school teacher also usually creates activities to help children learn to interact socially by being respectful of other students. Such activities may include having the children collaborate on projects in partners or groups so they learn to work out different roles and responsibilities.

The type of instruction in primary schools varies from one education system to the next.
The type of instruction in primary schools varies from one education system to the next.

Helping the young students master expected outcomes in all subjects is a main task of teachers in primary school. The teacher will evaluate each student's progress according to guidelines set by the school board in many cases. After each reporting period, a primary school teacher will typically set up parent interviews. Discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each child's progress in a constructive way can help parents support the teacher's classroom activities to better facilitate learning.

Primary school teachers typically teach more than one subject.
Primary school teachers typically teach more than one subject.

Meeting with parents at the school in the evenings after report cards is often necessary to accommodate people who work outside the home during the day. Other evenings at the school may include school plays or fundraising events. A primary school teacher must also attend regular faculty meetings. These meetings may involve discussing upcoming curriculum changes as well as progress reports to the school principal to keep him or her aware of how each class is progressing.

Primary school teachers focus on the fundamentals of writing.
Primary school teachers focus on the fundamentals of writing.

Many primary school teachers teach every subject to their class, including art and physical education. A primary school teacher has to organize the lessons so that appropriate attention and progress is being made in each subject. He or she has the responsibility of ensuring that all of the children in his or her class, whether average or special needs learners, are receiving as clear and supportive instruction as possible. Primary school teachers also have to supervise their classes carefully for safety reasons due to the young age group.

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Discussion Comments

irontoenail

@pleonasm - Don't worry too much about knowing everything. Really, what you need to know is how to learn. Your kids will appreciate it if you tell them you don't know something and encourage them to find out answers for themselves. Teaching them this kind of independence is really the whole point, particularly when primary schools have so little time to teach them anything.

pleonasm

@MrsPramm - I always kind of thought it would be easy, or at least easier to be a teacher focusing on the younger students, but even that isn't the case. You might not be teaching them algebra, but getting a full classroom of five year olds to focus on a single subject is really difficult.

And it's actually pretty technical. I never realized that learning how to read and evaluating people who are learning how to read was so very involved. I learned far more about the English language and how it works when I was studying to be a primary school teacher than I ever learned in my English Lit. degree. And I still don't know if I really understand it all.

MrsPramm

I've always thought that primary school teachers get a little bit looked down on and it's not really fair. Yes, they teach subjects at a lower level than high school teachers do. But they also have to teach a much wider range of subjects. They also don't have the luxury of being able to ignore problem students and hope they go away. They have a class that they see all the time and that they are solely responsible for. It's a very tough job.

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    • Primary school teachers often organize group projects for students.
      By: Monkey Business
      Primary school teachers often organize group projects for students.
    • Many primary school teachers teach every subject to their classes.
      By: Ermolaev Alexandr
      Many primary school teachers teach every subject to their classes.
    • The type of instruction in primary schools varies from one education system to the next.
      By: air
      The type of instruction in primary schools varies from one education system to the next.
    • Primary school teachers typically teach more than one subject.
      By: Monkey Business
      Primary school teachers typically teach more than one subject.
    • Primary school teachers focus on the fundamentals of writing.
      By: Petro Feketa
      Primary school teachers focus on the fundamentals of writing.