Teaching Elective Classes

Besides the core subjects of mathematics, science, social studies, and language arts, many teachers are needed to supply students with other necessary knowledge.

Not always true to their name, many elective courses are required. Common elective subjects are health, physical education, art, music, and foreign languages.In addition, there are many vocational-type electives including woodworking, family and consumer sciences, business, technology, and agriculture. Students taking these types of vocational courses are not necessarily part of a vocational program, and the classes are regularly offered within the traditional school system.

Vocational positions are most commonly found at the high school setting. Otherwise, elective teachers can teach students ranging from k-12.

Typically, elective teachers hold a bachelor’s degree in the field they instruct like art, theatre, music, or Spanish. Majors in these fields alone may find it difficult to gain employment. Therefore, by adding teaching certification through an education degree coupled with the subject area, the potential teacher has increased job opportunities in a field she is passionate about.

Those who already have earned a bachelor’s degree in a field like French or business and did not earn teacher certification at the same time, may complete a master’s program in education to become certified.

The salary for elective teachers widely varies depending upon experience and the school setting. As a general guideline, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shares that the average public school teacher job for grades k-12 earns between US$50,680 to US$55,720.

Depending upon the size of the school district, the elective teacher may be responsible for many different grades.

For example, a physical education teacher at a small school district may teach all students grades k-6. While the elective teacher may be instructing hundreds of students per week, she will still form close relationships in this setting as she instructs the students during their whole elementary career.Travel between various school buildings is sometimes required of elective teachers. This is especially true for those that instruct a wide variety of grade levels.

By their nature, elective courses are hands-on experiences. Teachers are able to easily observe student growth. Compared to the traditional assignments and grading of core subjects, electives teachers can use many performance assessments. For example, a grade in physical education may be from observing students run a mile. A music grade might be the successful memorization and performance of a song.

Also, if the course is truly “elective,” the students are passionate about being in the classroom, which creates an exciting teaching environment.

Elective teachers may be required to instruct events outside of the typical school day. Music concerts and art shows involve large amounts of planning and time to implement.

Nonetheless, elective teachers are rewarded by providing students with real-life skills that lead to a healthy lifestyle, an appreciation and familiarity with the fine arts, or a skill that helps with job opportunities.

The following resources offer more information on common elective areas.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

International Technology Education Association

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