Key Differences between Teaching Primary and Secondary Students

Teaching at any age level can be difficult. One of the most important qualities in a good teacher is adaptability. A teacher instructing fourth grades cannot use the same methods as one teaching high school seniors. There are a few keys differences between teaching primary and secondary students.

Content Material

On a very basic level, high school students can process much more complex material than elementary school students can. While elementary school students might be taught about James and the Giant Peach, a high school class would not appreciate such subject material. High school students should be learning about much more complex ideas, such as the themes and motifs present in such great works as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. 

Love for Learning

Generally, elementary school students are more naturally excited to learn. Unlike high school seniors, they have not yet become jaded with the wonderful world of knowledge. For elementary school students, it is important to harness that energy in a positive direction. For high school students, it is important to use innovative teaching techniques that inspire learning and encourage creative thinking.

Energy Level

Elementary school students have higher energy levels than high school students. They may be more antsy, be more prone to run around, and in some ways harder to settle down. It is important to use a positive but firm voice tone with elementary school students if they get out of line. Using rhythmic cheers to capture everyone’s attention can work in an elementary school student, but would likely be scorned and mocked in a high school setting. 

Need Level

While all students need attention, elementary school students are particularly needy. They are away from their parents, sometimes for longer than they would like, and often need extra attention. While they may be cute and friendly, they constantly need direction to accomplish their tasks. High school students have developed much greater levels of independence, and can complete assigned tasks with much more freedom. 

Teaching has its benefits at all levels, including primary and secondary students. The best way to figure out which grade level is the best fit for you is to shadow teachers that work with different age groups. This will give you the confidence to make an informed decision. Teaching is a wonderful world that will appeal to people who have a love for learning and enjoy helping people succeed in their daily tasks.