Mathematics is a central keystone to just about everything in our society. From counting out change at the cash register to paying bills to performing advanced scientific research, everyone uses math in some respect in their daily lives. Math teachers, as such, are a vital part of our current STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) educational system.
Depending on the level at which they teach, math teachers might instruct students on the overall fundamentals of arithmetic, or they might delve into basic algebra, trigonometry or advanced calculus. They might even teach higher math functions to more advanced students. Read about the job of a math teacher, what the job salary and outlook is for the profession, and how you can become a member of this profession.
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What’s the Job of a Math Teacher?
The job of a math teacher, obviously, is to teach mathematics at a grade-appropriate level. Math teachers can be found at all levels of education, from kindergarten all the way through college, and may, depending on approach, grade and other factors, teach either generalized math or specialized subject areas.
In elementary and middle-school classes, math teachers in the current climate will likely teach the basics of Common Core, helping children to learn the basic methods of problem solving using groups of ten and other structured approaches. In middle through high school math teachers will focus on specific subjects: algebra, trigonometry, calculus and the like. A single math teacher could teach several classes with different focus areas.
What Knowledge and Skills Do Math Teachers Need?
Math teachers may be focused in a specific branch of mathematics, but need to have a broad and overarching knowledge of all fields, especially at high school and postsecondary levels. This is because they might need to teach courses in algebra, geometry and trigonometry all in the same day.
In addition, they need confidence and excellent communication skills to deliver lessons effectively. Math teachers must be excellent problem solvers and have solid observational and analytical skills. They need to be able to spot kids who are having problems and adapt their approach to suit. They also must be flexible as the job requires after-hours lesson planning, grading, and attendance at meetings and school functions.
Patience is also essential for the job, to help explain difficult concepts to frustrated students, as is sensitivity to the needs of students. A teacher may be called upon to intervene for a student with behavioral, academic, or emotional problems, which can be a hard challenge.
Becoming a Math Teacher
The first step in becoming a math teacher is to gain expansive knowledge in a range of specific fields of math. This will require higher education—most teachers acquire a bachelor’s in math, followed by a master’s degree in teaching or education. After this, your state will have specific requirements for licensure including how much student teaching you’ll have to do, how to obtain clearances for working with kids, and the testing you’ll need to complete. If you’re interested in becoming a mathematics teacher, search for your state requirements so you can start on the road to a great career today.