An Interview with a High School Maths Teacher
Have you ever thought about becoming a high school Maths teacher? Is education something you have considered as an alternative career path? Do you want to share your passion and knowledge for Maths with the next generation? It’s often hard to make these decisions without having an insight into the industry from someone who is doing the role. Informational interviews and networking are both good ways to start getting this insight before making any major career moves. Shadowing and work experience are also great methods to try out new roles and industries. This article does some of the work for you through an interview with a high school Maths teacher, Kulsoom Raza. She shares 6 things to think about if you want to become a Maths teacher.
There is a big difference between knowing Maths and teaching Maths
You can be very knowledgeable and passionate about a subject, but you also need to have the skills to teach it. Your passion for the subject is important, as you are trying to engage students with it. However, your ability to convey your knowledge is a crucial factor in determining your quality of teaching. Think about how you would like to apply your subject knowledge and whether you have or can build the skills to teach this effectively.
You don’t need to have a Maths degree*
You don’t need to have a Maths degree to become a high school Maths teacher. Having a STEM degree means you have a good grounding in working with numbers. There are also plenty of online courses, often called Subject Knowledge Enhancement Courses, that you can do to build up your grounding in concepts you haven’t addressed in a while. *This applies to the UK and may vary in other countries.
It’s all about building relationships
Most of your role is actually centred around building relationships with your students. Your ability to get on with the young people you are teaching has a big influence on your quality of teaching. This is a huge part of the role of a teacher and not something you can detach yourself from. It’s not one of those jobs where you can leave the office behind. You can think of it as an ‘all-inclusive’ role where you are putting your energy into every single aspect of it.
Teaching is not a 9-5 job
If you think that teaching is a 9-5 job with lots of free time because of all the school holidays, think again! For the first couple of years whilst you are in training, things can be especially intense. After this, you may be able to enjoy your holidays more, but there is still lesson planning and marking to do outside of the classroom. Lesson planning takes up the most time because you may have to customise your lessons depending on your students’ needs. And consider that your holidays will be restricted to school holidays, so if you want to go abroad, you will have to book trips at peak times.
Your job is constantly active
If you enjoy presenting and interacting with people on a regular basis, you will love teaching. Your job is always active as a teacher in the classroom. You need a high level of energy and enthusiasm to engage with students. It’s great if you want to be up and moving and continuously interacting with others.
You have a responsibility towards your students
In the UK, ‘in loco parentis’ is a term used to describe the responsibility of a teacher towards their students whilst they are in school. As a high school teacher, you have a duty of care towards your students, in a way that a parent does towards their child. This brings another aspect of duty within the role, but can also be extremely rewarding. You’re actually spending more time with students than their parents, which means you get to build great relationships with them. Over time, they look to you as a role model and come to you with both their worries and achievements. Giving this support is something to be proud of and contributes to a lot of the job satisfaction that comes with being a teacher. Teaching can be a great route to a rewarding, satisfying and exciting career. Becoming a high school Maths teacher is a way for STEM professionals to convey their numerical skill set as well as ability to engage others with a scientific subject. If you have worked in a different profession and want to make a transition to teaching Maths, you can also bring a lot of value to students from your real life application of Maths in your other roles. Consider the aspects of the job mentioned above and how this matches with your career interests, such as the level of responsibility, the active nature of the role and the impact on your lifestyle.
If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, watch our webinar on How Science Graduates Can Get a High Paying Job Outside the Lab Even if You Have Little to No Work Experience.