How to Change From Secondary to Primary Teaching

Updated March 23, 2017

The job of a secondary schoolteacher differs greatly from that of an elementary educator. While both work to educate and enrich their students, the pupils that each group works with daily are vastly different. Additionally, elementary teachers often have the opportunity to deal with children when they are younger and more impressionable than their secondary peers. If you teach secondary school, but would prefer to deal with younger, elementary pupils, you may be able to modify your license and face the new and intriguing challenge presented by elementary education.

Observe before making any final decisions. Switching your license can be quite the task. It is advisable to arrange to observe an elementary class before you go through the effort necessary to make this transition. Contact a friend or colleague at a local elementary school, and arrange to sit in on her class so that you can be certain that elementary teaching is right for you.

Contact your state department of education to discuss license modification options. In some states, teachers who hold secondary teaching degrees can easily transition their license to another grade level. Call your local department of education to see if your license can easily be modified.

Speak to the advising department at a local college to receive an audit detailing what you would need for a qualifying degree. If your department of education does not allow for easy license transition, you may need to take additional coursework. To determine what coursework you may need to take, contact an area college that offers an elementary education degree. If you give your transcripts to the advising department, they can audit your transcript and determine what coursework you would need to complete.

Take the mandated coursework. Follow the advice from the advising department to complete the necessary coursework and obtain the degree that you need to get your new license.

Apply for your new license. After completing the coursework, you can apply for an additional license with the department of education. You can still retain your initial license, so that you can transition back to secondary education if you later change your mind. Your new license will simply be an additional license, increasing your qualifications as a teacher.

Speak to administrators within your district to see if a transfer may be possible. If you enjoy teaching in your current school system, you may be able to remain in the school district and transfer to a new position. Speak to the administration in your school, and express your desire to transfer.

Apply for elementary teaching jobs in other areas. If you want to teach in a different district, or elementary positions are not available in your district, you may need to transfer to a completely different district. Fill out and submit any applications necessary to obtain your new elementary teaching job.

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About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.