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Math At what level of math skill can you start teaching highschool calculus?

  1. Jul 9, 2010 #1
    So i think i want to be a math teacher at a highschool. But i want enough math skill to never have to look at the textbook for a lesson plan. I want to have enoguh proefficiency in math to just start writing down notes on the blackboard just by using my head. My friends tell me profs do this all the time (I just graduated highschool). I would love for my life to be that easy. Does anybody know how long it will take to get this skill?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2010 #2
    I had a professor who could do that in pre-calc. He had a doctorate in secondary education, but his only math background was a minor.
  4. Jul 9, 2010 #3
    There is no better way to learn any subject well, than by teaching it.

    If you teach the same subject more than once, you will have this ability you want.

    I recommend you put this worry out of your mind and focus on the more difficult parts of teaching. Motivating your students to want to learn and presenting the subject in a way that is easier for them to learn are much more challenging skills to develop, but they also come with experience.
  5. Jul 9, 2010 #4
    If you went to my highschool, you could teach calculus at the same time as taking at the community college!

    Really though, planning your lesson out will always be important. You need to think about what you are going to lecture on and work through some examples. Otherwise you risk of wasting everyone's time, being an less effective teacher and looking foolish when you have to stop and think.
  6. Jul 9, 2010 #5


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    The only professor I know who can teach without notes has been doing it for decades. Some professors have been doing it for decades and still can't do that. For one, some people simply can't remember everything! Some professors want to follow a textbook and even if they have everything memorized, maybe they want notes so they remember the order as well.

    Experience is the key though, you can go get a phd in math and probably still need to look back at a textbook to explain things at the lower levels (although ok, at high school you probably wouldn't... ). You don't spend all of your college career learning stuff that high schoolers need to know so it makes sense that you wouldn't be able to master it and be able to present without notes until after a while teaching.
  7. Jul 9, 2010 #6
    Major in math.
  8. Jul 9, 2010 #7
    That level of knowledge is not skill, it is the result of understanding. The requisite level of understanding is quite common among professional mathematicians, which means PhD mathematicians.

    It is not that easy, but is the result of a lot of study and hard work. Nothing in life that is wothwhile is easy, but if you have the interest in mathematics then the work is hard but pleasant.
  9. Jul 10, 2010 #8
    =) Well thankfully i do have enoguh interest to do a math degree. Thanks guys. I guess there really is no easy way to actually do a lesson except to prepare for it. That kinda sucks haha.
  10. Jul 10, 2010 #9


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    It's called a job. It requires work. No surprise there

    Unless your friends are spying on their professors the night before/morning of their lectures, they really don't know what kind of preparation went into the lecture
  11. Jul 10, 2010 #10
    One important point to make is that the best teachers teach the student how to think, not just the subject itself.

    We sometimes do know the preparation. Some professors tell the students directly. Some grad students know the profs personally and know their habits. I once overheard one professor on the phone bragging to his friend how he did no preparation at all ( by the way, this fact was reflected in his poor teaching).

    A good professor will always need to put a tremendous effort into teaching the first time through a course, but it gets easier each time. Eventually the prof knows the lectures cold, but if he is good, he will keep thinking of ways to improve the presentation.
  12. Jul 10, 2010 #11
    First of all, the actual classroom teaching is the easy part. Parents, paperwork, and discipline are all much harder and more time consuming.

    Secondly, don't worry about teaching calculus, worry about teaching remedial algebra. Because as a new teacher, that's what you will probably be given... :smile:
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2010
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