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First-Grade Teacher Career


What Is a First-Grade Teacher?


Responsible for the academic and social formation of first-grade students, first-grade teachers provide education on a variety of subjects. They familiarize students with basic concepts while teaching first-graders to think for themselves, ask questions, and embrace their unique personalities.


What Does a First-Grade Teacher Do?

Depending on the time of the year, the responsibilities of a first-grade teacher may vary widely, from curriculum creation to parent-teacher conferences. The exact duties of a first-grade teacher can include:

  • Lesson planning to outline concepts they will teach to students during future classes.
  • Materials management to ensure that all worksheets, textbooks, personal whiteboards, technology, and school-provided writing utensils are functional and ready for the day’s lessons.
  • Enforcing classroom rules to foster a safe, productive learning environment for all students and staff.
  • Implementing technology at appropriate intervals, to introduce first-grade students to devices and online resources that can assist in the learning process.
  • Activity organization that encourages out-of-the-box thinking in a comfortable, accepting environment that students can embrace.
  • Student counseling to help all students overcome life’s challenges.
  • Record-keeping to accurately track all student attendance records, grades, behavioral notes, and class schedules.

These and other responsibilities make the daily schedule of a first-grade teacher a busy one. A majority of the responsibilities that a first-grade teacher maintains will directly contribute to the short- and long-term education of current students.


What Is Taught in First Grade?

  • Math concepts such as measurements, currency, identifying different distances, and telling time.
  • Science concepts such as life and organisms, different habitats, the water cycle, climatic changes around the world, and basic health.
  • History concepts such as worldwide holidays, popular American figures, and time zones.
  • Art concepts such as shapes, patterns, watercolors, and other art forms that are easy to produce.
  • Social studies concepts such as fundamental geography, basic rights, and identifying locations on a map.


Where Do First-Grade Teachers Work?

The location where a first-grade teacher works is largely dependent on the nature of the school itself. These settings include:

  • Public or private schools, where first-grade teachers work onsite at the school itself, in individual classrooms.
  • Religious schools, where first-grade teachers are typically responsible for teaching both an academic and a theological curriculum.
  • Charter academies, where first-grade teachers can work extended hours, and even live, on or near the school’s campus.
  • Special-education schools, where first-grade teachers will often personalize lesson plans according to the materials students can comprehend.
  • Private tutorships, where teachers will often travel to a student’s home or a third-party location, and provide education from a tailored curriculum.

During months when school is in session, first-grade teachers will spend a majority of their work-time at the school itself. When summer months arrive and students are not in school, teachers turn their attention to building or optimizing curriculums, refreshing classroom settings, and restocking any educational resources. If a teacher prefers to work remotely during the summer months, they are often free to do so.


What Education Does a First-Grade Teacher Need?

At a minimum, a first-grade teacher will need a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Each state will have specific requirements for elementary school teachers, but a bachelor’s degree will absolutely be required in order to teach. You will need to find a program that prepares you for licensure in your state. An elementary education degree will help you be prepared for the specific subjects you will teach in the classroom, as well as critical education strategies for effective teaching.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field, a master’s degree in elementary education can help you gain the credentials you need for licensure in your state. It’s important to understand the specific requirements in your state including background checks, certification examinations, and student teaching hour requirements.

Best Degrees for First-Grade Teachers


Elementary Education – B.A.

An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary teachers....

An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary teachers.

Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 68% of students finish this degree within 36 months.
  • Tuition: $3,825 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 38 total courses in this program (39 for Washington residents)

Skills for your résumé included in this program:

  • Elementary Reading Methods
  • Language Arts Instruction
  • Elementary Mathematics Methods
  • Elementary Disciplinary Literacy
  • Children’s Literature

This elementary education degree program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time student teaching. This online teaching degree program helps you to be eligible for teaching certification in any of the 50 states.


Teaching, Elementary Education – M.A.

An online master's of arts in education degree and teacher certification...

An online master's of arts in education degree and teacher certification program for aspiring elementary school teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-teaching field.

Leads to a teaching license. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.

  • Time: 64% of students finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $3,975 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 24 total courses in this program (25 for Washington residents)

Skills for your résumé included in this program:

  • Lesson Planning
  • Ethics
  • Behavioral Support Strategies
  • Educational Psychology & Development
  • Classroom Management

This online teacher's degree requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time student teaching.

How Much Does a First-Grade Teacher Make?


The exact income of a first-grade teacher varies based on factors that include their years of experience, employer, employer location, and tenure status.

The salary of a first-grade teacher averages $47,500 per year, with a range of roughly $30,812 to $83,049.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


The job outlook for elementary school teachers is expected to see 4% growth by 2029, which is an expansion rate roughly the same as all other occupations. Amid a nationwide teacher shortage, the demand for educated teachers with a passion for helping their students learn is only going to increase.

This growth in elementary school teacher employment is closely related to an anticipated increase in total student enrollment. As the total number of enrolled students increases, the need for elementary school teachers will experience a parallel rise.


What Skills Does a First-Grade Teacher Need?

First-grade teachers regularly put to use a defined skill set to help them develop lesson plans, connect with students, and create a safe classroom environment. These skills include:

  • Innovative thinking. The ability to creatively generate curriculums that will resonate with students, hold interest, and provide the necessary education.
  • Organization. The ability to organize classrooms to optimize learning.
  • Technological proficiency. The ability to appropriately integrate technology into the classroom in a way that benefits student education.
  • Instruction. The ability to help students benefit from individual and shared learning environments.
  • Interpersonal communication skills. The ability to correspond well with students, parents, and fellow school staff members.
  • Time management. The ability to balance classroom, student, and lesson plan priorities.

Depending on the type of school and the curriculum taught, a first-grade teacher's responsibilities may vary.

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