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!

Other High school teaching

  1. Jul 4, 2016 #1
    I was wondering if there was any high school teachers here.

    Have any of you guys gone right into teaching at a public high school after graduating. Ive spoken to a couple different people. One of them being an ex-high school teacher (now university instructor) and he told me that with my degree its not hard to get a teaching job even without a teaching certification. He said that high schools will allow me to start teaching and get my certification while being employed by the school. The second person being an administrator for one of the local school districts basically echoed what he said. Is this common? I plan on talking to advisors at the university but I was hoping to get more first hand experience from people that have taken a similar route.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2016 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor

    I heard the same things 20 years ago, and I hear them now as well from a friend who is a teacher. This is for physics, though. I'm not sure how common it is for, say, math.
  4. Jul 4, 2016 #3
    That's good too know. I'd want to teach physics anyways. The only math I'm interested in teaching is calculus and beyond.
    Anyone else have any experience in this?
    I graduate in May. I know it's a year from now but once the semester gets going the year disappears. Just trying to get my ducks lined up.
  5. Jul 5, 2016 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    You might be qualified to teach Mathematics in high schools. You would have to teach what the district or school offers for you to teach, whatever the level.

    You might be qualified to teach Physics in high schools. You would have to teach what the district or school offers for you within the physical sciences, not just Physics, to teach.
  6. Jul 5, 2016 #5
    Many of my fellow grads did this through "Teach for America". They went straight to high school or junior high and worked on masters degrees and certificates while teaching. Note that they had to go to less desirable locations. As you can probably expect, the need for teachers is highly location dependent. My classmates got assigned to poor schools in rough areas. Where I live there is no deficit of teachers at all and many teachers can not find work, it's a desirable location.
  7. Jul 5, 2016 #6
    I actually did some digging on Teach for America because of your post. My gf and I want to move so moving is not so much of an issue. I was also raised and have worked in some "rough area" so I'm too bothered by that.
    Do you know of your friends were able to teach subjects related to their degrees?
  8. Jul 6, 2016 #7
    If you message me, I will tell you about my experience with teaching high school right out of college.
  9. Jul 6, 2016 #8


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Why not just post your thoughts here? Probably others could benefit from your experience as well. :smile:
  10. Jul 6, 2016 #9
    Most of them got into math classes, arithmetic and algebra. One taught physics. I think there is a lot more need for math than physics.

    But honestly, at that level, I'm not sure either require skills related to their degree. Dealing with kids and teenagers, keeping them positive and what not seems like the real skill set needed.
  11. Jul 8, 2016 #10
    Absolutely. My wife worked as a high school math teacher for a while and when she interviewed for positions, she was always surprised that no one *ever* asked her a question about math! While you need the subject knowledge, it's a relatively small part of teaching.
  12. Dec 29, 2016 #11
    This is in response to this thread, but also to concerns raised elsewhere in this forum about the quality of high school physics teaching here in the USA.

    In the USA you don't need a degree in physics or another natural science in order to teach physics in public schools. You do need a teaching certificate. You may have a degree in physics, and have some teaching experience in the form of tutoring, or even being a teaching assistant in grad school. But without that teaching certificate, it's very difficult if not impossible to get a teaching job in any public school. At least that is my information. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Some states say they have a program to teach while you get your certificate. But in one state I know quite well, they only offer a kind of accelerated certificate program for those with a degree, which you can take in the evenings after your day job, which you pay for yourself, you can't teach while you take it, and once you complete it there is no guarantee you get a job. You simply get put on a list.

    Given these facts it is quite reasonable for someone who wants to teach in public school to get a degree in education in their state, and then get some kind of specialist qualification in a particular subject area such as general science. The system seems to encourage if not demand this.

    Of course if you do get a teaching certificate in one state, it may not transfer to another state. We have fifty states, each with their own rules about qualifications for public school teachers.

    We read sometimes there is a desperate need for STEM teachers here in the USA. We read how much the USA needs its students educated in STEM for economic and national security issues. Few people get physics degrees in this country. For example, according to AIP figures there were 7526 bachelor degrees in physics awarded in 2014. https://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/undergrad/bachdegrees-p-14.pdf.

    No doubt some with physics degrees would be interested in teaching high school physics. But I don't see appropriate action being taken to bring such people into teaching. As Mr. Spock would say, regarding the public school authorities, their actions are inconsistent with their words.

    Since public school physics teachers are not required to have a physics degree, I think we should at least require teachers to pass a comprehensive high-school level physics test before they teach high-school physics. But I suspect people here would argue about the contents of the test. It would become a political issue. People from various factions would oppose it for their own reasons.
  13. Dec 29, 2016 #11
    Lots of good observations there. I've lived in several states where those with physics degrees could transition to high school without having the certificate first.

    The more discouraging aspects are:

    1) Low pay. In addition to the bureaucratic hurdles, they expect folks to give up engineering-type salaries and make the same as first year phys ed teachers. If they really want physics teachers, they need to pay competitive salaries. Maybe they need to visit the economics course and get a lesson in supply and demand. The communist teacher pay model will not work.

    2) Undisciplined students. Many students who end up in high school physics classes are poorly motivated and unwilling to work hard enough to learn a challenging subject. They bring all the out of control behaviors into the classroom with them, and in many districts, teachers are not empowered to create and maintain an educational environment sufficiently disciplined to learn physics.

    3) Weak student math and physical science backgrounds. Physics teachers are expected to make bricks without straw if the expected output is real competence in the articulated learning objectives from students who enter without the algebra and basic science skills to succeed.

    On the whole, the public high school ship is sinking, and the better plan in many cases is to abandon it for physics and choose alternatives like home study, dual enrollment, or distance learning options. See:

  14. Dec 29, 2016 #12
    Thanks for your comments, which I agree with for the most part. I wonder if there is a list somewhere of states that do allow people with STEM degrees to teach while they get their certificate.

    As far as public schools are concerned, I think we must make them better, but perhaps that would take some kind of national consensus which we do not have at this time?
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  15. Dec 29, 2016 #13
    From teachers and other staff members around here that I've spoken to, all of them have told me that most of the high schools will bend over backwards to scoop me up. To my understanding, a school here will hire me and allow me to get my cert while teaching. One district will allow me three years to get it.
    I've spoken to people from three different school districts ranging from secretaries to teachers to administrators. This seems to be the norm. I want to say "around here" but I know someone that was hired as a teacher the semester before she graduated in city 300 miles away in a different state. Also a physics major.
    I plan on sending out resumes in a few weeks. I graduate in May. A good friend of mine is a head secretary at a local high school that is looking to fill positions for their growing early college program.
    If I get hired anytime soon I will definitely post an update.
  16. Dec 29, 2016 #14
    This is encouraging. Thanks and best of luck in your job search.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted