1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

High school teacher for math/physics

  1. Jul 29, 2013 #1

    I did double degree in physics and mathematics and now I'm considering being a high school teacher.

    i always had passion for it. i actually wanted to be teacher in community college and i still plan to apply for that when i get my masters (not attending atm).

    anyway, i have 0 teaching experience. i know i can do it though...very well i might add. what are the chances of someone fresh being accepted to teaching?

    also what should i be doing and how should i be going about it? i know i have to take exams... and i found couple of other stuff via google but i'm pretty clueless about everything else.

    i'm in IL.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

  4. Jul 29, 2013 #3
    Very high. But actually, it depends on how you go about it. If you are open to moving then you can apply through Teach for America. You might get a position teaching Middle School or High School. Teach for America is good for STEM majors. Otherwise you can go the more traditional route and that can be quite competitive and tough to get. (Its no surprise that this is why Teach for America is controversial among professional public school teachers)
  5. Jul 29, 2013 #4
    interesting. I knew there were tests but I have to take more classes? This doesn't seem right. The more i look into this the more i get confused. somewhere it says college degree (like mine) is enough somewhere it says i have to take classes. i'm still reading and trying to figure this out...hopefully it makes sense soon.

    thanks, i'll look into that right now.
  6. Jul 29, 2013 #5


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    Well, if your goal is to become a career teacher, then I think eventually you will have to get a certificate of some sorts. Many states allow people to temporary be a teacher for schools that need a certain subject for a certain amount of time, thus temporarily letting your degree be enough. Most states will eventually force you to get some sort of certification to help you with classroom management.


    For your state this will give you in detail the license requirement and types of licenses that exist.

    A quick note about TFA. My wife did this program after she graduated from college. The acceptance rate into the program is roughly 15% with a heavy slant towards math and science. From my limited understanding is that many states have licenses that will allow a non-state certified teacher to teach for up to two years, but anything after that is up to the state and may require you to eventually become state certified.
  7. Jul 29, 2013 #6
    okay I don't get how Teach for America works. You have to apply to join. The requirements are low enough that any college graduate can apply. Once they join, they train for a few weeks and they start teaching right away with paid salary? This sounds too good to be true...I'm assuming i'm misunderstand something here. There is no mention of tests (although i don't mind them) or certification all together.

    that link is most helpful. also the TFA info you shared is very much appreciated.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  8. Jul 29, 2013 #7


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    There are a couple of catches:

    1)Because they have so few slots, they can cherry pick the applications. You may met the minimum requirement, but that doesn't guarantee you will be selected.

    2)You have to be willing to work in an Urban environment or extremely rural one. For example, my wife taught in the inner city of Atlanta. (Although, my good friend taught chemistry in a rather nice school in rural Texas.)

    If you are willing to do that and make the cut, then yes it can be construed as a great deal.
  9. Jul 29, 2013 #8
    The path I've followed to start HS teaching has been as follows (from a BS in science & a MS in Chemical Engineering and many years experience as an engineer). I took an introductory education course at a community college. Realizing I know my science well but not much about teaching, I then enrolled in a post baccalaureate teaching program at a local university. This culminated in a student teaching assignment in a local high school and a teaching license. I start actually teaching this fall - and I feel prepared.
  10. Jul 31, 2013 #9
    As I former teacher, I do feel it is my responsibility to address this. Now of course I have no idea what your basis for saying this is, but keep in mind that there is a lot, a ton in fact, of things that will determine your success in the classroom, things that you couldn't possibly anticipate before you get there.

    It's not all thinking of interesting ways of explaining things and being smart, and I have seen many, many "intelligent" people fall flat on their face and never get up. It depends a lot on the type of school you are in and types of students, but most of teaching really has nothing to do with standing up in front of a room and giving an insightful, inspiring lecture. Differentiating (no, not Calculus, hah) learning for different levels (that means creating multiple activities) is big, regardless of whether you buy into it, and the new push is for integrating special needs students and ESL students into mainstream classes, which complicates things. And you can't think that just because you teach physics, you'll get a bunch of great students. That simply isn't reality anymore (if it ever was).

    There is a lot of red tape involved, and heat comes down from the administration seemingly randomly. A lot of your success is either random, or based on how well you know the language (and all the silly acronyms). You have to buy into the strategies that are the flavors of the week, and revamp your curriculum based on their vicissitudes.

    Classroom management is a big thing too.

    I don't say this to be discouraging, but realize teaching is a stressful, 60+ hour (often more) job from September-June, and the stress gets to people, and just be prepared. If you can handle it, then great, but it is a job that becomes you.
  11. Aug 1, 2013 #10
    I would call this an understatement. :smile:

    Rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so I'd certainly follow the procedure outlined for your state. But I can tell you that in CA, proving subject matter competence is only the smallest part of obtaining a teaching credential.

    My wife wanted to teach high school math and she had master's degrees in both math and computer science. In the end, she had to go back to school for a year to complete a credentialling program.

    After she finished and went for job interviews, *no one* asked her anything about math. Ever. The questions were always about classroom management.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook