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Prospective Math Major Here

  1. Oct 26, 2006 #1
    I'm currently in my third semester at Penn State, and will be declaring my major sometime next semester. I'm going to major in math, but I'm not sure which Math BS option I want to take (Penn State offers several). I'm leaning towards teaching (high school-level) after I graduate.

    I know that the teaching requirements vary from state to state, but, in general, what qualifications would I need to have in order to apply for a job at a high school to teach math? For the record, I live in southwestern Pennsylvania, and would be open to moving a little bit if it meant that I would have a better chance at landing a job.

    Should I just get a general Math BS degree and just get some education credits while I'm there? I'm open to any advice you guys have. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2006 #2
    My calculus teacher in High-School was a literature major and only had 1 year of calculus himself. I think that as long as you want the job, you'll be fine. :p
  4. Oct 27, 2006 #3
    In my opinion, I would say a general math would be better than math ed. I know in Texas and Missouri(maybe more states, but I've only lived in those states.) you basically only need a teacher certification. Also, if a school needs teachers know calc, stats, etc etc, then they are mainly only concern with the fact that you know the subject. Of course, I can be wrong.
  5. Oct 27, 2006 #4
    That's what I wanted to hear, guys. Thanks for the input! My math teacher from high school told me that if I want to teach, I'll probably just need some education credits and to pass whatever certification exams there are.
  6. Oct 27, 2006 #5
    In California, at least, it is very wrong. My wife has a master's degree in mathematics, and she still had to go back to school for a year to get a teacher certification before any district would consider hiring her. Moreover, during all of her job interviews, no one *ever* asked her about anything mathematical... all of the questions were about classroom management.

    Of course different states have different requirements. But if you want to teach, I'd strongly recommend math ed instead of general math.
  7. Oct 27, 2006 #6
    Hmm... Well, of course I'd have to be certified to teach in my state. What are the requirements in California, for example?
  8. Oct 28, 2006 #7


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  9. Oct 28, 2006 #8


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    try to do both - know the subject, which requires a math major, and satisfy the employment requirements, which often means some math ed courses. besides you might learn something about how to teach in the math ed courses, always useful.

    look at the requirements in a few states for teachers. the imbecilic "no child left behind" law, crafted by that brilliant acdemic, GW, has made it much harder for intelligent people who merely know the material to get jobs.

    I know this second hand from my students who are still asking me for letters for jobs, in spite of having won all our awards for being the best students in the department.
  10. Oct 28, 2006 #9
    :biggrin: I'd like to think I could at least satisfy those requirements.

    I plan on taking at least two Math Education courses while I'm at Penn State, so hopefully that will help me meet state requirements. It looks like I'd have to do some student teaching or intern (?) somewhere in order to fulfill part of the PA requirements. Do you think I'd be able to student-teach at all even if I'm not going to go through the Math Education program? I realize that I should probably ask someone at my school about this, but you guys seem to be very knowledgeable and might have an idea or two.
  11. Oct 28, 2006 #10
    No, that's Canada... I can see how the "C" at the beginning confused you... :smile:

    Seriously, California teacher credentialling is a pain in the ass, unless you want to teach in an inner city, in which case "breathing" is probably enough to get an emergency credential...
  12. Oct 28, 2006 #11
    For a preliminary credential, you need to:
    1. Have at least a Bachelor's degree,
    2. Pass CBEST (a general purpose "Can you read, write, and add?" test).
    3. Pass CSET (a set of three mathematics exams).
    4. Pass a state-accredited teacher training program. (I think teacher training in states other than California can be transferred with appropriate paper work.)
    5. Get fingerprint and background clearance.
    6. Get CPR training.
    7. Show a familiarity with the principles of the US constitution, either through coursework or passing an exam. (This is the dumbest requirement, and usually reduces to writing a check to take a short multiple choice exam with one small essay.)

    Then, you have to do additional teacher training within I think 5 years to get a "clear" credential.

    On the other hand, I remember reading that NY had a special program for career change teachers. Six weeks during the summer, and then into the classroom you go!

    So in short, the state-by-state requirements differ considerably.
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