How To Decide What Grade To Teach (9 Important Points To Consider) | Teacher How (2023)

Being a teacher is a demanding but rewarding career. To be effective, you must understand your teaching traits and skills and ensure you are teaching the right grade level. How should you decide what grade to teach?

Here’s how to decide what grade to teach:

  1. Explore different curriculums.
  2. Consider the salaries being offered.
  3. Think about job prospects.
  4. Think about potential teaching challenges.
  5. Understand your personal teaching style.
  6. Decide on the type of relationships you want to form.
  7. Consider market trends.
  8. Explore with teaching experiences.
  9. Seek student feedback.

In this article, I will discuss each of these nine tips in detail. Read on for more information that will help you decide what grade to teach.

1. Explore Different Curriculums

Perhaps the most crucial factor in deciding what grade to teach is the subjects you are interested in. Typically, high school teachers specialize in only one or two subjects, while elementary and middle school teachers have general knowledge about a wider array of subjects.

Different districts and schools in the US have different curriculums. Private schools are free to set their curriculums and testing means, while public schools design curricula based on local government policies and school boards. Some private schools may follow international curriculums like the International Baccalaureate.

To decide what grade level to teach, look at the curriculum of schools in your area and the topic structure of each subject. Choose a grade level by ensuring you are confident enough to teach the topics under the subject you’re interested in.

2. Consider the Salaries Being Offered

Teaching is a notoriously low-paying profession. If money and benefits are important to you, you should select the grade level which will offer you the most pay. Here’s a breakdown of a teacher’s pay by grade level:

  • Elementary school. Elementary school teachers earn between $37,780 – $95,270 per year, with a medium income of $58,230.
  • Middle school. Middle school teachers earn similar salaries to elementary school teachers. They earn between $39,090 – $93,180 annually, with an average of $58,000.
  • High school. High school teachers have a mean salary of $72,340 per year. They can make from $39,740 – $97,500.

On average, high school teachers make the highest salary. However, it should be noted that they also have more documentation and after-school commitments than most elementary and middle school teachers. In addition, there are more high school teachers in the US market, making it a more competitive landscape.

If you do want to be an elementary or middle school teacher but are concerned about the pay rate, remember that you can always ask for a raise, and there are also other ways to build on your income. After-school tutoring is lucrative and in high demand across the US.

When considering the salary on offer, you should also look at other perks offered in your package such as medical insurance and the amount of annual leave you get.

3. Think About Job Prospects

You should select a grade level that offers plenty of job prospects. The demand for different grade-specific teachers varies across the US. Before honing in on a particular grade level, look at the demand in your area and choose a grade accordingly. Here’s how to get a sense of what’s needed in most areas:

(Video) What makes a good teacher great? | Azul Terronez | TEDxSantoDomingo

  • Look at job discovery platforms. Job discovery platforms will give you a good understanding of the demand in the market. Look at Teachaway, a job board for K-12 teaching jobs in the US for specific teaching jobs. Or, look at, which is a more general job board.
  • Talk to schools and the educational community. Talk to local schools about teaching jobs they may have available. If you are attending a university, your professors are also an excellent source of advice and information.
  • Read local policies and municipal plans. Local government policies will outline the educational plan for the area. By reading these, you will be able to predict the demand for teachers of specific grade levels.

4. Think About Potential Teaching Challenges

Each grade level and age group of students is accompanied by different teaching challenges. With this in mind, it is helpful to consider which challenges you’ll be able to cope with best. An elementary school teacher may be challenged by program planning and classroom management, while a high school teacher may struggle with documentation.

Here are some more insights about the challenges you’ll face at each grade level.

Elementary Schools Require Effective Management

In elementary school, here are some common challenges identified by teachers:

  • Program planning. Some elementary school teachers note that they have difficulty planning for elementary school students. While they are given the same amount of time to plan as other teachers, they have to develop more individualized programs. As a result, they may spend more time planning on their own time.
  • Classroom management. Young children are less disciplined than older students and may need more behavior guidance.

Middle School Teaching Involves Providing Guidance

Some of the challenges you may come across in middle school teaching include:

  • Helping students acclimate to more structure and expectations. In elementary school, children typically have loose routines, which allows teachers to make adaptations based on each child’s needs. In middle school, students have to cope with more structure and rigor, and teachers have to support them to navigate more structured routines.
  • The need for emotional intelligence. Students in middle school are going through several phases of adolescence. They may need their teachers to have high emotional intelligence to best support them.

High School Teaching Involves Providing Support and Feedback

Here are some of the challenges you may face when teaching high school students:

  • Increased documentation. Typically, students in high school begin to undergo more and more comprehensive assessments. As a teacher, it will be your responsibility to review these assessments and provide feedback.
  • Possible ambivalence from students. As they establish and explore their identities, high school students may display ambivalence towards teachers. As a teacher, you will need to remain patient and supportive.

5. Understand Your Personal Teaching Style

In most modern teaching courses, student teachers are encouraged and assisted in reflecting on their teaching style and personality. There are five major teaching styles:

  • The authority style
  • The delegator style
  • The facilitator style
  • The demonstrator style
  • The hybrid style

It would be best if you tried to align your teaching style to the grade you want to teach. This section examines each teaching style in detail and considers what age group is suited for each teaching style.

The Authority Style is Information-Focused

This style involves the teacher standing in front of the class and delivering a lecture or a presentation in a structured way. Authority style teaching leaves little room for one-on-one interactions and experiential learning. Instead, it focuses on imparting as much information as possible in a given time.

If you are an authoritative teacher, you should teach higher grades. Once they are juniors and seniors, students would have developed the capacity to absorb and focus on much information.

The Delegator Style is Experience-Focused

If you are a delegator teacher, you are probably teaching a topic like biology, physics, psychology, or sociology. These are all subjects that rely on group and laboratory work.

The delegator teacher assigns students to groups and collaborative projects within their classroom. The students are directed to carry out tasks to build on their learning and facilitate peer learning. The teacher supports the groups and guides complex topics.

(Video) Lesson Planning: What is Required?

This style of teaching works best for middle school and high school students. To engage in collaborative learning, students need to have discipline, self-motivation, and focus, which are skills that elementary school students are still learning.

The Facilitator Style Focuses on Self-Learning

A facilitator teacher looks to build on students’ capacity to self-learn. Facilitator teachers will ask students questions and encourage them to look for solutions to their learning problems by inquiring, reading, and looking for information.

If you are a facilitator, you may suit elementary grade levels best. Facilitator style teaching requires one-on-one attention with each student. Elementary grades often have two or more teachers in the classroom, allowing them to give each student the attention they need.

The Demonstrator Style is Effective Across Grade Levels

As the name suggests, demonstrators teach through demonstrating skills or activities and expecting the students to copy their demonstration. Through copying the demonstration, students build on their physical skills and knowledge of the topic.

The demonstrating style of teaching is effective across all grades. While an elementary school demonstrator teacher may demonstrate basic skills in subjects like science, a high school teacher may demonstrate how to use a laboratory instrument.

The Hybrid Style is Generally Flexible

The teacher who follows the hybrid style continuously varies their teaching style to best suit their students. With one student, they may be a demonstrator, while with another, they may encourage collaborative learning.

If you have a hybrid teaching style, you would teach best in the primary or elementary grades. This is because children in their early years need individualized teaching methods to help them grasp core concepts.

In the higher grades, the hybrid teaching style may not be practical, as your classes become bigger. This makes it much more challenging to use a tailored approach for each student. In addition, the subjects become more focused and often require one type of teaching style over another.

6. Decide On the Type of Relationships You Want To Form

As well as assessing your teaching style, you should consider the kind of relationships you want to build with your students. Building solid relationships align with Vygotský’s constructivism theory and ensures that children can learn better from teachers.

Here are the different types of relationships you may hope to form with your students:

  • Nurturing
  • Mentoring
  • Instructional and professional

Below I will discuss each of these relationship types and how they might affect your teaching decisions.

(Video) How to Get Better Grades Without Studying More

Nurturing Relationships are Key for Elementary Students

Elementary school students need teachers who are nurturing and caring. They see adults as caregivers, and elementary school teachers should nurture and build on children’s knowledge. You should be an elementary school teacher if you enjoy developing nurturing relationships.

As an elementary school teacher, you should focus on building secure attachments with your students.

Mentoring Relationships are Important for Adolescents

Once children reach middle school and move into their early teens, they look for teachers to be ‘their allies’. As they navigate physical, social, and mental changes, they look for adults who can help them understand themselves better and guide them toward positive choices.

If you enjoy being a mentor, you should look to teach middle school students. However, it’s important to remember that a mentor may be emotionally taxing.

Instructional and Professional Teachers Focus on Academics

By the time they reach high school, students have formed much of their personalities and opinions. Generally, the focus shifts from self-discovery to academic rigor as many students are looking at applying to universities and improving their grades.

High school students look to their teachers to provide instruction, information, and knowledge. They may also look for academic support to help them improve their grades and further education prospects.

If you are focused on building professional relationships with students, you should consider teaching high school grades.

7. Consider Market Trends

It’s essential to plan ahead for every career. When deciding what grade to teach, it can be helpful to research the education trends to see what grades will need the most teachers in the next few decades. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides the following information on recent market trends:

  • A decline in junior high schools. Since the 1970s, most public schools have been moving away from having separate junior high schools (grades 7 and 8) to either incorporating junior high schools with high schools or with elementary schools. As a result, there are and will continue to be fewer jobs for teachers of grades 7 and 8.
  • Increase in elementary and middle schools. The research indicates that the amount of these schools across the US is continuously increasing.
  • Decrease in secondary schools. The number of secondary schools in the US declined by 3% in the last decade. In addition, a report by Industry ARC has predicted a growth in online teaching following the COVID-19 pandemic. This may reduce the number of teachers needed in high school, as students will be engaged in more self-learning activities.

These statistics show that if you are a new teacher looking to teach for the next few decades, it would be better to teach in elementary or middle school instead of junior high or high school.

8. Explore With Teaching Experiences

If you are still unsure about what grade level you should select, it is best to let practical experience guide your decision. Your university or training institution should send you on practical placements. However, if your education doesn’t require this type of experience, you can arrange for your own.

(Video) FTCE Middle Grades Math 5-9 A TIP YOU NEED TO KNOW!!

Here is a video that provides more information on the experience of student teaching.

If you cannot secure a student placement, you can apply to become a substitute teacher. Substitute teachers get placed in various grades and have to cover a range of topics. This experience will help you understand which grade level you prefer.

Another way to get experience is through tutoring. Once you have your teaching qualification, you should look for local tutoring agencies in your area. Tell them you are willing to tutor children from across all age groups. This will help you get some experience in navigating different types of grades.

9. Seek Student Feedback

Ultimately, every teacher wants to know that they are making a difference in their students’ lives. Getting student feedback is important to improving your practice, and the feedback helps you understand how effective you are as a teacher. If you are able to get student feedback from a range of grades, you can then assess what grade you’re most effective at teaching.

Here’s how you can gather student feedback:

  • Verbal feedback. In early years education, verbal feedback helps teachers understand whether their students are engaged. Ask open-ended questions like “is this easy for you to understand” and “do you need help?”
  • School-supported feedback. Some schools ask their older students to fill out teacher feedback and satisfaction surveys at the end of each school term. These surveys are anonymous, but ask questions about how well students responded to teaching styles and approaches.
  • Informal notes. Asking students to leave anonymous notes with feedback about each lesson. These will help you with formative feedback on how to tailor your lessons or whether your teaching is appropriate to the grade level.

Key Takeaways

It’s essential to consider a range of factors when deciding what grade to teach. It’s important to think about the subjects and subject level you would like to teach, along with the job prospects in your area in different grade levels.

It’s also helpful to base your choice on your personal experience of teaching different grades. Remember that it may take some experimentation to find the perfect fit and long-term job satisfaction.


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How To Decide What Grade To Teach (9 Important Points To Consider) | Teacher How? ›

Making the decision to teach at a certain grade level requires you to assess your career goals, personal attributes, abilities and subject area expertise. All of these factors play an important role in determining what grade level would be the best fit for you as a teacher.

How do you decide what grade you want to teach? ›

Making the decision to teach at a certain grade level requires you to assess your career goals, personal attributes, abilities and subject area expertise. All of these factors play an important role in determining what grade level would be the best fit for you as a teacher.

What is the hardest grade to teach in elementary school? ›

The Verdict: Fifth grade~ what a special grade. But do you see many of these factors as deal breakers? Do you have more cons than pros? If so, teaching fifth grade may be the hardest elementary grade for you to teach.

What is the question and answer strategy in teaching? ›

The question-answer relationship (QAR) comprehension strategy teaches students how to ask key questions about their reading, and then how to find the answers to their questions — whether it means locating a specific fact, drawing an inference, or connecting the reading to their own experience.

What strategies do you use in your classroom to encourage asking and answering questions? ›

7 Tips for Teaching and Encouraging Students to Ask Questions
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  • Praise Students for Asking Questions. ...
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  • Slow Down to Leave Room for Questions. ...
  • Provide Opportunities to Practice Asking Questions.
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What is the hardest age group to teach? ›

While middle school is undoubtedly one of the hardest age groups to teach, it can also be the most rewarding for teachers and students alike, but there are a few things we'd like you to know to understand it truly.

Which grade teacher makes the most? ›

What grade / level do teachers get paid the most? The highest earners are typically high school level teachers, and the lowest paid are preschool teachers.

What elementary grade is most important? ›

The early elementary years – from kindergarten through third grade – are particularly important ones in children's schooling. Parents and teachers know that children acquire new skills and knowledge rapidly during these years.

What is the easiest subject to teach in elementary school? ›

10 Easiest Subjects to Teach
  • Math. Math is a subject that is mainly conceptual. ...
  • Physical Education. If you're like most people, you probably dreaded having to go to gym class when you were in school. ...
  • Art. ...
  • Music. ...
  • Science. ...
  • Health. ...
  • Spelling. ...
  • History.

What is the hardest year of elementary school? ›

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What is the 4 as strategy in teaching? ›

The 4As of adult learning: Activity, Analysis, Abstraction, and Application is illustrated in Figure 6-1. The constructivist approach to teaching asserts that a Learner gains and builds knowledge through experience. It recognizes that life experiences are rich resources for continued learning.

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How To Create Great Strategy With 4 Simple Questions
  • #1. The 'Why' in strategy. This question asks us to look at our purpose. ...
  • #2. The 'What' in strategy. 'What' is about our goals. ...
  • #3. The 'How' in strategy. This question is about detailed planning and scheduling. ...
  • #4. The 'Who' in strategy.

What are the four strategies which a teacher generally used to motivate students? ›

Positive Outcomes

Give verbal praise for successful progress or accomplishment. Give personal attention to students. Provide informative, helpful feedback when it is immediately useful. Provide motivating feedback (praise) immediately following task performance.

What are the 6 classroom activities that teachers could use in order to improve their speaking skills? ›

Try these and see which ones work best for your students!
  • Encourage conversation. ...
  • Model syntactic structure. ...
  • Maintain eye contact. ...
  • Remind students to speak loudly and articulate clearly. ...
  • Have students summarize heard information. ...
  • Model and guide sentence construction. ...
  • Explain the subtleties of tone.
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What strategies can a teacher use to get students attention? ›

There are other ways to capture your students' attention without yelling.
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What is the toughest age of a child? ›

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What's the best elementary grade to teach? ›

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What is the hardest year of education? ›

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What is the most money a teacher can make? ›

Salaries for educators vary widely. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for K-12 teachers is around $61,000 . This said, a teacher can earn up to $100,000 , depending on factors like location and years of service.

What is the average salary for teachers in the US? ›

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What state has the highest teacher shortage? ›

Georgia had the highest number of vacancies (3,112) for the 2019-2020 school year. More recently, during the 2021-2022 school year, Florida had the most vacancies with 3,911 positions unfulfilled. That same school year, Mississippi and Alabama had over 3,000 vacancies.

What grade is the most important grade? ›

Most college admissions committees consider your 11th-grade transcript to be the most important.

What grade marks matter the most? ›

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What year do grades matter the most? ›

Most colleges will ask for the fourth year, but they typically use the grades from the first three years to determine admission. Arguably, the most critical year for grades is the 3rd year, or junior year, because these grades are the most recent and will give colleges the best picture of a student's abilities.

What is the hardest subject to teach? ›

Calculus. There are a number of math courses or sub-sciences of math that probably deserve some recognition here. Calculus heads the group though as one of the toughest to teach and also learn.

What is the hardest grade in school? ›

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Why 2nd grade is the best grade to teach? ›

Second grade builds on the skills learned in first grade, with a greater emphasis on independence, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Teachers in second grade need to be able to challenge students and provide them with opportunities to explore their interests and passions.

What grade is the most challenging? ›

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  • 2 7th grade. I'm 13 and almost done with 7th grade, and all I can say is that it is really a big step up. ...
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  • 4 8th grade. ...
  • 5 10th grade. ...
  • 6 9th grade. ...
  • 7 6th grade. ...
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What school year is the easiest? ›

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How important is 3rd grade? ›

Third grade gives you a peek into the future.

A student who can't read on grade level by 3rd grade is 4x less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time. We'd love to talk with you about how we can help your child reach his or her individual goals!

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What is the 3 2 1 questioning technique? ›

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What are the three main questions strategy makers must consider? ›

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What are the 6 key teaching strategies? ›

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  • Flipped Classroom. ...
  • VAK Teaching. ...
  • Spaced Learning. ...
  • Differentiated Instruction. ...
  • Dual Coding.
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How do you motivate a 5th grader? ›

  1. Encourage reading in any way you can. ...
  2. Treat your child as though he's an author. ...
  3. Make math part of her everyday life. ...
  4. Teach your child how to listen. ...
  5. Support your child's teacher and the school rules. ...
  6. Tell the teacher everything. ...
  7. Make sure your child is ready for school. ...
  8. Spend time in your child's classroom.

What are five speaking best practices? ›

  • #1: Breathe. ...
  • #2: Admit Your Nervousness. ...
  • #3: Use (Minimal) Notes. ...
  • #4: Become Comfortable with "The Pause" ...
  • #5: Be Aware of Your Hand Gestures. ...
  • #6: Move Around Some, But Not Too Much. ...
  • #7: Incorporate Visual Prompts. ...
  • #8: Practice, Practice, Practice…Then Practice Some More.
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What are the 5 speaking strategies? ›

Let's recap: here are Nicole's five most powerful public speaking tips to help you crush your next class presentation or business engagement.
  • Know your audience. ...
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. ...
  • Own the space. ...
  • Be confident. ...
  • Enjoy yourself.

What to avoid when teaching speaking? ›

Talking too slowly or too quickly

Speaking too quickly will confuse even the best students in your class: again, you may be the first native English speaker they have ever spoken with! Speaking too slowly and breaking down each word will also skew their concept of how English actually sounds….

How do you grab students attention before a lesson? ›

Here are 10 tips to help you wrangle your students' focus back to the lesson or task at hand.
  1. Be clear. ...
  2. Be patient. ...
  3. Pump up the volume. ...
  4. Play a game. ...
  5. Strike a chord. ...
  6. Fly like a butterfly, sit quietly like a bee. ...
  7. Narrate your count down. ...
  8. Use clever attention-grabbers.
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Why is 4th grade the best to teach? ›

You get to see your students grow and become independent. At this age, your students don't need – or want – you to do everything for them. They can manage plenty independently, from hanging coats to organizing assignments, forming their groups, and even volunteering to help the teacher.

What is the most important grade for education? ›

By Grades 4 and 5 it's time to get a bit more serious as our kids get ready for much more important Middle School, which will lead to even more important High School. This is simply wrong. The early Elementary years are the most important when it comes to your child's future academic success.

Do teachers give better grades to students they like? ›

The study found that when teachers and students were peas in a pod, the teachers overestimated the students' general abilities. Conversely, students who were dissimilar from their teachers were judged less positively. But when the judgment was grounded to a specific test, the effect disappeared.

Why first grade is the most important? ›

First Grade is a determinative year in a child's reading and language skills. This is the year students ideally become fluent readers, and their grammatical structures become complex.

Which teaching subject is most in demand? ›

According to the Department of Education, the past few years have shown an increased shortage of teachers in certain subjects and an oversupply in others. High demand jobs exist in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and local languages.

What is the best grade to have? ›

A - is the highest grade you can receive on an assignment, and it's between 90% and 100% B - is still a pretty good grade! This is an above-average score, between 80% and 89% C - this is a grade that rests right in the middle.

How can I improve my elementary school grades? ›

Watch this video about habits of highly successful students.
  1. Motivate yourself. ...
  2. Listen and participate in class. ...
  3. Take thorough notes during a class. ...
  4. Do not hesitate to ask for help. ...
  5. Stay focused during your homework. ...
  6. Take a 15-minute break after each 45 minutes of studying. ...
  7. Consider studying together with your fellow students.
Dec 2, 2020

How is your grade determined? ›

The course grade is determined by the sum of the student's item scores divided by the total points possible.

What grade is most important in elementary? ›

The early elementary years – from kindergarten through third grade – are particularly important ones in children's schooling. Parents and teachers know that children acquire new skills and knowledge rapidly during these years.

What grade is most common? ›

Study: The Most Common Grade Given By Colleges Is An 'A' : The Two-Way : NPR. Study: The Most Common Grade Given By Colleges Is An 'A' : The Two-Way The study found that about 43 percent of all letter grades given in four-year colleges and universities were A's, making it the most common mark.

What is the best grade to teach and why? ›

If your really love helping young learners grow and play, preschool, kindergarten, or grades 1 through 3 are great. If you're more interested in helping children develop good thinking skills as they mature, grade 4 is a good place to start.


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Introduction: My name is Van Hayes, I am a thankful, friendly, smiling, calm, powerful, fine, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.