K-12 Educator Essential Job Functions

The knowledge, skills and abilities, working conditions and physical and social requirements described herein are representative of those that must be met by K-12 educators to successfully perform their essential functions or duties. Generally speaking, employers must provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations that are needed to perform their essential job functions and duties, absent an undue hardship. Please note that the following list is generally representative, but this list does not apply to all K-12 educator groupings or positions, which can vary with respect to their working environment, student needs, required tasks, and other factors.

Knowledge Skills & Abilities

  • Ability to effectively communicate – verbal, written and presentation
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Ability to work with diverse groups
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with students, parents, colleagues, administration and the public
  • Ability to demonstrate patience, creativity and confidence
  • Ability to create and deliver dynamic lessons incorporating group learning activities and technology
  • Ability to constantly monitor the safety and well-being of students, particularly when student is participating in an inclusive activity.
  • Ability to motivate students.
  • Ability to maintain a clean and orderly environment.
  • Ability to perform general clerical duties.
  • Ability to maintain order and discipline in a classroom.
  • Ability to operate common office machines.
  • Ability to maintain basic files and records.
  • Ability to understand and follow oral and written instructions.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships as necessitates by work assignments.

Working Conditions
The work environment is formal/professional, team-oriented, with both routine and variable tasks. Work pace is variable, but frequently fast-paced and high-pressure. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Adapting to a variety of different environments is necessary for teachers of any grade. While most teachers work in climate-controlled, indoor environments, there are several circumstances in which a
teacher might work outdoors or outside of the school grounds. Physical education teachers may work outside frequently, while elementary school teachers will supervise outdoor recess. Field trips require teachers to supervise students on buses, in addition to the trip destination. Some schools simply do not have the funding for air conditioning, and densely populated school districts or schools undergoing construction will move classes to outdoor trailers.

Physical Requirements
The physical requirements for teaching positions vary greatly. Physical education teachers are required to be somewhat fit and capable of instructing students on the proper methods to exercise and play games. Elementary, kindergarten and preschool teachers are required to escort the class throughout lunchtimes, to different classrooms, to recess and to field trips, in addition to managing the activity level of the children. High school teachers rely on lectures for their lessons, which can be taxing on the back and feet. All teachers might be required to stand for several hours at a time.

Other typical physical requirements include the ability to:

  • sit and stand for extended periods of time;
  • exhibit manual dexterity to dial a telephone, to enter data into a computer;
  • to see and read a computer screen and printed material with or without vision aids;
  • hear and understand speech at normal classroom levels, outdoors and on the telephone;
  • speak in audible tones so that others may understand clearly in normal classrooms, outdoors and on the telephone;
  • physical agility to lift up to 25 pounds to shoulder height and 50 pounds to waist height;
  • bend, stoop, sit on the floor, climb stairs, walk and reach overhead;
  • assist students with daily needs, which could include attending to toilet needs; and to
  • supervise the use of school and art supplies, which may involve particular odors.

Social & Emotional Skills Requirements
All educators serve as role models for children and adolescents who are served by schools. Therefore, must at all times be emotionally stable and able to function effectively with children, adolescents and adults who may have mental or behavioral health problems. Educators must be able to demonstrate appropriate daily behavior, appropriate expression of emotions, as well as appropriate role modeling. Hostility, aggression and unnecessary or inappropriate physical actions as well as inappropriate emotional expression are not acceptable.

Most teachers know the importance of developing trusting relationships with all of their students, while maintaining control of the classroom. Some students, however, require unique attention. Special education teachers, for example, must present lesson plans in a way that students in individualized education programs, or IEPs, can understand. Special education teachers must also be available throughout the school day to provide extra instruction to the students who need it. Teachers also work with children of other cultures, so cultural sensitivity is extremely important to a fully integrated classroom. When English is a second language for students, teachers must be bilingual or very knowledgeable of other languages.