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Teach maybe?

  1. Jul 6, 2009 #1
    i have a masters in mathematics and i've been mulling over the idea of teaching for a few years now, the idea never seems to have faded. but i'm often discouraged by my fears and anxieties of being in the eye of public scrutiny. how does one go about finding out if teaching can be done? my parents have suggested a group called "toast masters" which focuses on public speaking skills (and critical listening) and is financially the cheapest (only an initiation fee). i could also return to junior college and take (or retake) a speech or drama class for about $400 dollars to test myself there. or i can go back to university, this looks it to be about $1000, and see what i can find meant specifically for educator coursework, but these are usually qualified with "secondary education" and its my thought that this is for highschool teaching, not junior college (which is where i can go with just a masters). or does the junior college which potentially hires you provide support training for teaching (which presumably includes anxiety counseling)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2009 #2


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    Your Master's degree qualifies you both for teaching at a junior college and for high shcool, junior high school, and private schools. Most of your other suggestions for yourself are good ones. You could probably qualify for a single-subject credential program easily.
  4. Jul 6, 2009 #3


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    Just a quick note, depending on where you work, you may need a credential to teach high school (like california :rolleyes: ).
  5. Jul 6, 2009 #4
    California credentialling is non-trivial. My wife had a master's in math and another in computer science, and she still couldn't get a credential without going back to school for a year in a credential program.

    (There are emergency credentials... but it's not easy to get these, since NCLB means that these teachers fall into the "underqualified" category. Aside from the fact that this really isn't the time to get into teaching in California anyway...)
  6. Jul 6, 2009 #5


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    Right, TMFKAN64. The credentialing preparation is worth the effort and time for some people. For subject qualifications alone, since "highly qualified teacher" means, at a very minimum, 32 or more units of non-remedial coursework in a target subject area to teach, the Master's degree exceeds that effectively.
  7. Jul 6, 2009 #6
    To be honest, most of the credentialling coursework seemed worthless from my perspective... but what completely invaluable was the student teaching. The ability to actually get into a classroom, but with a reduced teaching load and the assistance of a master teacher seemed to be worth the price of admission.

    What many people don't seem to understand is that knowing a subject is not really enough to be able to teach it effectively. It's a prerequisite, but subject knowledge is only a starting point.

    (Sorry, it's late, and I seem to be exceptionally spammy today...)
  8. Jul 6, 2009 #7
    Can you volunteer to teach at local schools? Physics students in the UK are encouraged to to do this through University physics departments. So ask at your department, or just ask at a school! Toast master audiences are very different from a school audience so I am not sure how much use that would be!
  9. Jul 6, 2009 #8
    In the US, to teach at the high school level (IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM) you typically need the following:
    • Praxis testing (basics, general teaching knowledge, and subject) -- these are standardized tests administered by the Educational Testing Service... who also does such things as the AP tests, the GRE tests, and the SAT. Testing requirements can vary by state.
    • Completion of an approved teacher education program through a university (either at the bachelor's level or the master's level). This includes coursework and obervations / student teaching.
    • Completion of paperwork for the state that documents the above (and also has background checks/fingerprinting covered).
    While some states allow for emergency certification, school districts will typically favor someone with certification in the hiring process (even if they might have less content knowledge). It's sometimes possible to get a job if you are currently seeking certification through a program (and have substitute licensure).

    Note that while this is the system for public school teaching... often private schools also favor someone with teaching certification/licensure, and often schools that accept some public funds (like charter schools) must have a certain percentage of teachers that are certified (depending on the district/state laws).

    Note: with a bachelor's degree, you do probably qualify for substitute licensure (again you complete paperwork from the state for this, mostly consisting of background checks and fingerprinting)... which would qualify you to substitute teach. while it isn't the optimum environment to learn if you're suited to public education, it also isn't necessarily bad. If you're lucky, you might get called in for a long term substitute position (say for someone's sick leave or maternity leave). I know of two individuals who were (one for the whole teaching load of a teacher... another just for two physics classes, while others covered other courses).

    If you're teaching at the junior college / community college level or at any university, licensure / certification is not required. Most universities I know do offer different forms of teaching support, typically in workshops organized through instructional technology centers, library services, etc. These usually, however, take the form of SPECIFIC support -- such as courses in the use of personal response systems such as "i-clicker" or the use of web-based instruction including such things as "Blackboard" if the university subscribes to the service. I've been to a few workshops that cover things like "Teaching generation Y"... which includes how to engage and motivate students... but I don't think I've ever known of any university that offers "anxiety counseling" for teaching. It's generally assumed that if you're interviewed and hired to do the job, you can handle the classroom (large or small).
  10. Jul 7, 2009 #9
    The thought of facing a class of unmotivated, disruptive 15 year olds is certainly enough to make anyone anxious. The only way to find out if you can motivate them, or at least handle them, is to do it! And forget about drama class and toastmasters, that would be like going to chem lab to find out if theoretical physics is for you.

    Physics teachers are so much in demand that I bet I could phone up the nearest school and try teaching for a few hours a week. The History grad. who is doing the physics teaching would probably provide a red carpet and love the opportunity to learn some physics himself. But that's in the UK, your experiences may differ. Just for fun I thought I would see if the US organise anything. In a two second Google search I found:

    http://www.tryteaching.eku.edu/ amongst loads others possibilities - "about 344,000,000 for try teaching".

    Now why didn't you do that? Avoidance anxiety?

    P.S. Physics teachers are so much in demand that you could probably find a school where you only have to teach motivated students who are as receptive and intelligent as a toast masters audience (but hopefully not as tipsy...)
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