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What Do I Need to Study to Be a First Grade Teacher?

by Denise Brown

First grade teachers play an important role in a child’s education. Children at that age have inquisitive minds, but they will only sit still for so long, so the teacher must be creative in ways she presents her lessons. Classes that train a first grade teacher help her provide the hands-on experiences across an integrated curriculum that her students need to become active learners.

Liberal Arts Education

A first grade teacher needs a broad general education so she can teach her young pupils. The liberal arts courses required of freshmen and sophomores at most universities help fulfill that need. As the prospective teacher takes her first two years of college classes, she studies communication arts, history, science and mathematics. Foreign language and computer literacy are often part of the liberal arts core as well. While the education major takes these courses, she should maintain at least the minimum grade point average, or GPA, required for admission into the college of education at her university. For example, both Georgia Southern University and Florida Atlantic University require a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale for admission into their respective teacher training programs.

Core Education Classes

A student who plans to become a first grade teacher takes core education classes along with other future teachers. These include classes in curriculum development, instructional technology, issues in education, educational psychology and psychology of the exceptional child. Early childhood education majors also take some classes with teachers preparing to teach older elementary and middle school students. These include classes in physical education, music and art.

First Grade Teacher Preparation

Many of the classes taken by a prospective first grade teacher deal with reading and literacy. A course in children’s literature allows the student to learn more about the effects of the written word on her pupil’s language development. The early childhood education major takes additional language courses, as well as methods courses to learn how to teach a young child to read. She learns how to assess her first graders literacy and how to make the prospect of learning to read fun for her young students. Additionally, the new teacher takes classes to learn how to make mathematics, science and social studies fun and interesting for her first graders through interactive lessons and classroom learning centers.

Student Teaching Experience

An early childhood education major finishes her college career with a semester of student teaching. During this semester, the prospective first grade teacher works under the guidance of an experienced first grade teacher to devise lesson plans and deliver them. The student teacher is also responsible for creating bulletin boards, setting up learning centers, communicating with parents, grading papers and participating in professional development activities. During her semester of student teaching, the prospective first grade teacher may work exclusively with one teacher, or she may spend time with different first grade teachers within the same building so she can learn about different teaching styles. In some cases, she might have the opportunity to observe kindergarten and second grade teachers to get an idea of the natural flow of early childhood curriculum.

About the Author

Denise Brown is an education professional who wanted to try something different. Two years and more than 500 articles later, she's enjoying her freelance writing experience for online resources such as Work.com and other online information sites. Brown holds a master's degree in history education from Truman State University.

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