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Good Minors for Elementary Teachers

by Janet Rutherford

According to Greatschools.org, exceptional teachers engage students and are masters of the subjects they teach. When future elementary school teachers choose their college minors, they should consider fields that augment student achievement while making them more marketable. Minoring in special education, gifted education, art or TESOL supports student learning and increases a teacher's demand.

Special Education

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that special education teachers are among the most in-demand educators in the nation. Having a minor in special education equips teachers with strategies to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Knowing how and when to implement those strategies may benefit all students in an elementary classroom. For example, as a special education minor at Penn State students learn strategies to teach social skills, use assistive technology, and support language and speech development for children with special needs.

Gifted Education

The National Association of Gifted Children conducted studies that concluded gifted education strategies benefit all children. Teachers who understand the importance of intellectually challenging assignments and activities foster intellectual growth in their students. Elementary teachers with a minor in gifted education learn differentiation approaches, homogeneous grouping techniques and curriculum compacting strategies to provide enriched and accelerated instruction to gifted students within the regular classroom.

Fine Arts

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies synthesized several studies to determine the effect of arts education in elementary and secondary schools. The research found studying music, theater or art boosts academic achievement, enhances civic awareness, elevates self-esteem and improves social skills. For example, music study develops the capacity for spatial-temporal reasoning, which is an important math skill. In addition, theater boosts literacy and communication skills such as reading comprehension, writing and speaking. Finally, the research suggests that participating in the arts boosts confidence and self-esteem. Choosing to minor in a fine art gives teachers the expertise and experience they need to incorporate fine arts into their core curriculum.

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

TESOL certification is a high-demand teaching field. The U.S. Census Bureau reports, one in five children over age 5 speak a language other than English at home. Based on those numbers, it's likely a teacher will have at least one English language learner in each of her classes. Although many school districts have certified TESOL instructors offering support to classrooms with ELL students, it may benefit elementary teachers to know how to implement ELL teaching strategies. This particularly holds true for teachers working in districts with high ELL populations. As a TESOL minor, teachers take courses in language acquisition theory, linguistics, cultural diversity, grammar and TESOL methods and strategies.

About the Author

Janet Rutherford began her writing career in 2006. She served as an English teacher and education consultant for 15 years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English education from Rust College and a Master of Education in educational leadership from the University of Mississippi.

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