the Difference Between Teaching Elementary and High School Students

the Difference Between Teaching Elementary and High School Students

Kids will be kids, and that’s a fact. Kids of any age are likely to be tiring, distracting, vexing, and troublesome. That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t find a teaching career to be the most fulfilling one you could possibly imagine.

One of the best ways to keep the job exciting (and keep you sane) is to make sure you’re teaching the right age group. The need for teachers at both elementary and high school levels are roughly the same: 51 percent are in elementary, while 49 percent teach at the secondary level, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Here are a few different factors to consider.


Obviously high schoolers are much more independent than elementary schoolers. Kids who already know how to dress themselves and pack a lunch will, naturally, be “better” at art projects or math. While this has its benefits, it also means that high schoolers aren’t a blank slate. It’s up to you whether you prefer to mold a student who is already taking shape, or start from scratch. In either case, though, students should be doing the majority of the work in any classroom – you should only be talking a small percentage of the time.


This is related to the aforementioned issue of independence. Elementary students have pretty limited abilities compared to high school students. If you enjoy watching skills develop, it’s a great age for you. If, however, you want to help students refine a true art or science – drama, art history, calculus – then clearly high school is calling your name.


High school teachers usually enjoy a considerably slower pace of life. Most high schools use block scheduling these days, which means 90-minute classes with a long planning period each day or once every two days. Unless you choose to teach an after-school activity, your before-and after-school time is usually free.

Elementary schedules, on the other hand, are somewhat manic. “Classes” last an hour or less, and the kids are going somewhere new every hour or so. Your planning periods are short, and there is no block time. You have a long lineup of before- and after-school duties, are expected on the playground with your class, and will most likely need to put in more after-school hours than a high school teacher due to the lack of planning periods.


Behavior issues are present at any age. In elementary school, you’re more likely to be distracted by out-and-out goofing off, tattling, spills, and accidents (the messy kind). In high school, cell phones will drive you nuts and tardiness is an ever-present nuisance. In both age groups, however, off-task behavior can be redirected by teachers who manage to cultivate true love of learning in their students…one of the greatest gifts a student of any age can receive.

Are you ready to learn more about a California Teaching Credential and what it can do for you? Check out the many possibilities available to you when you attend Alliant International University, from elementary to high school, one subject to several, and all the options in between. Your career is calling; all you have to do is answer. To learn more contact Alliant International University today.