A few days ago
Raging Hillbilly

Is Elementary Ed better for a “generalist?”?

I’m thinking of changing careers and getting into Elementary Ed. But I’m more of a “generalist,” and don’t really consider myself an expert in only one subject area, like many HS teachers are.

Is being a generalist a good trait for an elementary teacher to have since they teach basic concepts in many different subject areas? I’m thinking I’d be better working at the 4th, 5th, or 6th grade level. Gracias for any info!

Top 5 Answers
A few days ago

Favorite Answer

I’m not sure if the word “generalist” is totally accurate – more like “Jack of all Trades” would be better in my opinion.

It’s true though that a high school teacher is more of a specialist while an elementary teacher must know how to teach all subjects. Concepts in the elementary level are more basic and not as abstract so if it’s a subject you don’t know well, it’s not hard to research it enough to teach. Keep in mind that knowing a subject and being able to TEACH it in a way that your students will comprehend are two VERY different things. This is something you will learn while earning your credential as well as while you teach.

Before you make this career change decision, I would HIGHLY recommend you spend time in a real elementary school and get a taste of what teaching truly entails. Volunteer and gets your hands dirty working with real students and teachers. Ask questions of the kids, teachers, administrators, and parents. This is what I did in college before I was sure I wanted to be a teacher.

Unfortunately, the general public has a distorted view of what teachers do. Most people think “I went to school so I know what it’s like to be a teacher.” In my estimation, the actual “teaching students” is only about 50% of the job. The other half goes to preparation, grading, conferencing, endless meetings, etc. I urge you to get some real experience and do research before committing to this challenging yet rewarding career!


A few days ago
Well, yes and no. Each grade level DOES have specific concepts that must be taught, especially in SS & Science. You have to at least know the basics of those concepts in order to teach them. However, there’s definitely more room for a “generalist” in elementary grades than there is in high school. Since you’re looking into the older grades of elementary school, you should know that you’ll be expected to know how to teach all subjects, but you’ll probably only focus on one or two of those subjects (assuming you switch classes with other teachers, which is common practice in those grade levels). This is going to sound REALLY awful of me to say about my colleagues, but I’ve seen enough teachers LEAVE 6th grade because the math was too hard. Yep, 6th grade math. Too hard for the teacher. If you can handle that, you’re golden. 🙂

A few days ago
Fly girl
I believe that generalists work better at the elementary level. You get to dabble in many areas on a basic level. However, with the higher grades, you must really have the content understanding to teach effectively in disciplines like chemistry, calculus, etc. Some schools require you to have a degree in those areas to teach at the high school level.

A few days ago
If you would enjoy teaching the basic concepts in many different areas… elem edu would be a great choice.

If you are lucky, you could land a job in a school district where they expect classroom teachers to all subjects as well as PE, music, media and fine arts !

Good Luck!


A few days ago
The traits you need to teach whatever are unending patience, the ability to multi-task, flexibility, the desire to work hard and get paid little, be a team player/ rule follower, good negotiation skills, and it helps if you like kids. And lately not minding if your name is displayed along with kid’s test scores because heaven knows that the teacher is solely responsible for the child’s progress.