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How to Decide What Grade Level to Teach

Just when you thought the decision to become a teacher was tough, you now have to pick a grade level to teach. With so many interesting grade levels to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow it down to the one that suits you best. You may not always have a lot of flexibility in the grade level you’re assigned to teach, but if you are given the option, it’s a good idea to have a specific grade in mind. Whether it’s your first or 10th year teaching, all teachers can use a little guidance in choosing the right grade level to teach, and here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Observe different grades:

    As you complete your required observation hours, you should make a point to observe several different grade levels to see which one fits you best. Give yourself the chance to observe a variety of elementary, middle, and high school classes to see if one grade or subject area piques your interest more than another.

  2. Become a volunteer:

    If you’re still having trouble deciding what grade level to teach, then you should consider becoming a volunteer. Whether you work as a tutor, mentor, or teacher assistant, volunteering provides a unique opportunity to work with children of different grades and ages. Volunteering isn’t limited to schools either. You can also volunteer to teach and work with students at after-school programs, camps, and church events. This extra experience will not only open your eyes to which grade levels you like most, but it’s also a great resume builder.

  3. Be a substitute teacher:

    Substituting is another great way to interact with a variety of age groups and get hands-on experience instructing a classroom. Substitutes have the luxury of being able to try out different schools, grade levels, and subjects to see where their interests fall. You can even become a grade-specific substitute who focuses on one particular grade level.

  4. Think about your passions:

    As you try to decide which grade level to teach, think about your passions and the subject areas that most interest you. Keep in mind that you can also specialize in certain content areas, as well as specialties like journalism, speech, music, art, and more. Remember that just because you’re knowledgeable in a certain subject doesn’t mean you’ll want to teach that subject to others or that it’ll be easy.

  5. Talk to current teachers:

    For more insight on the pros and cons of teaching certain grade levels, go talk to teachers who currently work in your desired grade level. Their honest opinions can guide you in the right direction and help you make a more educated decision on which grade level to teach. Ask them about shadowing opportunities or substitute teaching positions in the grade levels that most interest you.

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