Which is the Most Rewarding: Primary or Secondary School Teaching?
How rewarding a career is depends as much on personal goals, skills and ambitions as it does upon the profession or job itself. So it is impossible to make a call as to whether primary teaching is more rewarding or if secondary teaching is. However, what we can do is look at some of the salient features of each teaching profile and then perhaps make a comparison between the two.
Primary school teachers can teach students between the ages of 3 through to 11, divided into three stages, foundation stage – that is nursery or reception for children between 3 to 5 years, Key Stage 1 – which is for children between 5 to 7 years, or years 1 and 2, and Key Stage 2 – which is mainly children between 7 – 11 years of age, or years 3 to 6. The role of a primary teacher includes teaching the primary curriculum, motivating students through their teaching style, organisational duties, and other duties such as providing feedback to parents or carers, organising school trips or events etc. Secondary school teachers teach the national curriculum to students from ages 11 to 18 years.
As teachers, both secondary and primary teachers, they must try to motivate pupils to learn and perform to the best of their individual ability. Secondary teachers teach older students and are particularly expected to keep up to date with new developments in their teaching area, and devising effective ways of teaching using different technologies like podcasts, films, interactive teaching etc.
A teacher is meant to support and motivate a pupil to learn and explore new areas of knowledge and understanding. A teacher is also meant to be a mentor and support a student’s growth as an individual. As such, the main difference between the nature of secondary and primary teaching is the age of the pupils, the stage of life they are at, and the problems, issues and needs that come with that.
According to the personal experience of a primary teacher, the best part about primary school teaching is that every day is completely different, and the job never gets boring mainly because of the children, their curiosity and their desire to learn new things. The most satisfying part of being a primary teacher according to this individual opinion is seeing how her young students progress through the year – and knowing that she has helped them achieve it.
Teaching at secondary school level can be more hard work simply because of the level of the curriculum, as well as the demands and needs of the students, who are older. Secondary school teachers particularly need to be more effective in dealing with difficult students. There is often the added responsibility of having to deal with student’s personal problems or issues. These are often delicate areas and it becomes important to take into account students’ home and social life as well.
Teaching in general can be one of the most rewarding professions there are. Mentoring students and watching them learn new things, and helping them achieve their goals can be a very satisfying thing. But unsurprisingly, teaching is also a highly demanding profession. Which level of teaching would be more satisfying for a teacher would depend on their personal skills and their priorities.