To prepare for a career as a high school math, your education plays an important part. It starts with earning a bachelor's degree, but it doesn't stop there. Aspiring teachers have many things to consider, from teacher certification and student teaching, to on-going professional development and earning a master's degree. Although every state has different requirements for educators, there are a few common threads that everyone preparing to enter the field should know about.
Earn a Bachelor's Degree
If there's a common denominator in every states' requirements for teaching math, it's completing a bachelor's degree. Although many teachers study math or education in college, you can earn a degree in any field. In any case, you must pass an approved teacher training program designed by the state's department of education to prepare teachers for the classroom. Earning a degree in education usually has this training program built into coursework.
Gaining classroom experience as a student teacher is a requirement in every state. These apprenticeship-type programs usually come at the end of your senior year or the end of an approved teacher training program, often lasting for an entire semester and requiring a full-time commitment. You are paired with a teaching mentor and gain hands-on experience managing the classroom and writing lesson plans. Student teachers are also assigned a supervising professor, with whom they meet throughout the semester. At the end of the student-teaching experience, you meet with the supervising teacher and professor for evaluation.
Aspiring teachers must complete a state-approved teacher's certification exam. In California, for instance, students must complete the California Subject Examination for Teachers, as well as a basic skills test. Teacher certification in many states requires an official college transcript and some states have minimum grade point average requirements. In California, the minimum GPA in teaching courses is a 3.0. A background check and fingerprinting are also required for teacher certification.
Advanced Degrees and Professional Development
New teachers are usually given an initial teaching license and are required to re-certify every couple of years, depending on the state. To re-certify, all states require teachers to complete professional development, often in the form of workshops or seminars. Some states also require teachers to earn a master's degree after they've begun their teaching careers. For instance, after five years of teaching, educators in New York are required to have earned a master's degree. In states where this isn't a requirement, master's degrees count toward professional development credits for teachers.
M.H. Davis is a writer based in San Francisco. He has worked for newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado and covered environmental issues for NewWest.net. Davis also writes a weekly blog for Edutopia.org.