The Versatility of an Elementary Education Degree

 Lora McKillop
Lora McKillop
Elementary school principal; M.A. in Executive Leadership, Gardner-Webb University, NC
Teacher helps a young student using a digital tablet.

What is an Elementary Education Degree?

An elementary education degree is typically a bachelor of art’s degree in which you become certified to teach grades second through sixth. This degree prepares future teachers with professional educational training so they can be successful in a variety of school settings. The program will provide you with the skills and mindset you need to be a positive role model who teaches students academic skills as well as life skills.

Most programs will give you the opportunity to observe in classrooms, complete several practicums, and participate in a semester or even a year long student teaching experience in one or more grade levels, even if you’re receiving an online elementary education degree. While course work is important, you need hands on, real-world training to practice and implement your learning.

The skills that undergraduate students learn to earn their degree include:

  • Knowledge of the content in grade levels second through sixth
  • Lesson planning and curriculum and instruction
  • Theories on human development, educational, psychology and learning
  • Instructional strategies
  • Meeting the needs of all learners
  • Classroom management
  • Effectively and professionally communicating with parents, colleagues, and students
  • Collect and analyze data to improve student learning
  • Self-reflection for professional growth

What Skills are Gained in an Elementary Education Graduate Program?

An elementary education master’s degree has a multitude of positive impacts on a teacher and their students. Teachers delve deeper into instructional methodologies and often times the best technology tools to use with students that will impact their learning the most. Many programs also help teachers work on researching best practices and methodologies to improve their teaching practices. Teachers usually choose a concentration for their graduate degree, which can help them become more of an expert in a particular area such as literacy, English as a second language, gifted and talented learners, educational law, and educational technology. Each of these concentrations can have a different impact in the classroom.

A literacy concentration will support and allow a teacher to better serve students who struggle in reading. They learn more about reading interventions and strategies that will provide students with the support they need to improve fluency and comprehension. If you study teaching English as a second language then you learn how to support your ELL learners better in the classroom where they are trying to learn social language as well as academic language. You learn strategies that help you support these students as they navigate the school environment and learn English. It is also important to deepen your understanding of how to best communicate with parents of ELLs.

If you concentrate on gifted and talented learners, then you will become well-versed in providing enrichment and challenge activities to help them grow and stay interested in learning. You can also learn how to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and preferences for learning. Just because a student is gifted and talented doesn’t mean they are gifted and talented in every academic area. This is important to know about your students.

If you are interested in pursing administration, then you may want to focus on the educational law track. You learn the ins and outs of what is legal and illegal in terms of dealing with parents, students, and teachers. It also helps to give you a better understanding of special education in regards to legalities.

Educational technology will help support your knowledge in the best platforms for students to use and apps that are best for them to practice skills. It is crucial that teachers do not only use technology as a substitute for something that is done with pencil and paper. You want to enhance a learner’s educational experience and help them create new products that are not possible without technology.

Ultimately, your concentration track should focus on your interested so you will be more invested. No matter what you choose, it will benefit your teaching practice as well as the growth and support it will provide for your students.

The Versatility of a Degree in Elementary Education

When you receive a degree in elementary education, especially if you receive a master’s in elementary education, you open up some options for your career. Some things that you could have the opportunity to do are being an instructional coach, lead teacher, ESOL teacher, gifted and talented teacher, or leading professional development for other teachers. All of these options are challenging roles that can help you to expand your skillset and provide you with a chance to make a bigger impact in your school or district by helping more students.

Any job that you do as an educator should be taken on with pride and professionalism. Remember that as an elementary educator, no matter whether you are in an elementary school or you want to try something outside of the classroom, you are making an impact on students’ futures. This is the most important job anyone can do!

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