5 Things Every Elementary Teacher Should Know

effective elementary teachers

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has released five core propositions that all teachers should know and be able to:

  1. Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
  2. Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
  3. Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
  4. Teaches think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
  5. Teachers are members of learning communities.

I think everyone can agree that these propositions are critical to good elementary teaching strategies. I want to elaborate on statement number two: 

Teachers know the subjects they teach...

This statement seems so obvious and the implications to such a statement are huge. Imagine that, teachers need to know the subjects they teach.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards states, “Understanding subject matter entails more than being able to recite lists of dates, multiplication tables, or rules of grammar. It is sometimes assumed that elementary school teachers need not be equipped to approach their subjects critically. But all accomplished teachers, regardless of the ages of their students, are charged with teaching students about something, and in order to do so they must appreciate its complexity and richness.” 

In those early years of school one of the most critical skills taught is how to read.  But how do you go about teaching a child how to read? First of all, it is important to give students practice and exposure to reading materials. But what about those students, (statistics show it is about 1/3 of any given class) who struggle to read and don’t just “pick it up.” 

As I reflect on my own reading abilities and how I learned to read, it is fuzzy. I was never taught explicit or systematic phonics. I was one of the lucky ones that just caught on to reading fairly naturally. Because I know how to read does that qualify me to teach someone else how to read? and how to teach those subjects to students.

Later on in the document the writers point out that, “Knowledge of subject matter is not synonymous with knowledge of how to reveal content to students so they might build it into their systems of thinking.”  

This statement seems so obvious and the implications to such a statement are huge.  Imagine that, teachers need to know the subjects they teach.  


teaching reading in elementary

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Feb 11 2011

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