Help me market myself as a new math teacher.
May 14, 2008 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Help me market myself as a secondary math teacher. I am one year out of college with Econ and Finance degrees, have minor classroom experience, and have had jobs irrelevant to education.

I am not certified to teach math, therefore I am primarily looking at private schools in my area (San Antonio).

Qualifications: In high school, I earned two 5s on the AB and BC calculus exams, and I love teaching. I also was an assistant Scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop, so managing and motivating large groups of "high schoolers" does not intimidate me.

My teaching experience: I volunteered at a local high school once per week, teaching a class of seniors about economics. I tutored 8th grade math on a limited basis during the same time.

I am one year out of college, and have had 2 jobs - an advertising sales job and a business analyst job with a software company.

What do schools look for? How can I market myself? What obstacles do I need to overcome? What is my competitive advantage over other, more experienced applicants?
posted by yoyoceramic to Education (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would suggest that you get a quicky teaching certificate. You can get one of these degrees either as a post-bacc or as a full MA.
posted by k8t at 7:45 AM on May 14, 2008

I agree with k8t. Many universities offer quick one-year teaching certificate programs that will get you some in-class training. (Sadly, you'll have to take some probably terrible education classes as well, but the in-class training is worth it.) Math teachers are in high demand, so once you have the degree, it will be likely very easy for you to get a job. My girlfriend just went through such a program herself to be a math teacher. She even managed to get the university to pay for it (provided she teaches for two years in any "high need" district (which is most of them) at some point in the next six years), so look out for scholarships too. I myself have managed to land some math teaching jobs (community college, summer high school programs) without a degree, but I would not have been able to get them without my masters degree.
posted by ErWenn at 8:02 AM on May 14, 2008

Is this as a main income sort of thing or something you want to do on the side? I have a friend who makes a lot of money consulting and only does large projects that he's interested in. So he'll make a year's salary in 3 months and then having nothing to do. That is not to say he could do more, he just doesn't want to. So he teaches and really enjoys it. He went the private school route where they are much more lax on their requirements. As in you only have to have a BS/BA.

The downside? Well they go through some loopholes to get him without a teaching cert. It is not illegal, but it doesn't guarantee is job and benefits and other things (I'm not aware of the details). The bottom line being that they really wanted to keep him and did what they could to keep him. He doesn't have to worry about laws or regulations changing as it is not his main source of income. I say this as a large caveat, you might want to get a quick cert, but if you wanted to try it out and didn't need to worry so much about financial security -- private schools are willing to work with you.
posted by geoff. at 8:22 AM on May 14, 2008

Frankly, it doesn't look to me like you are prepared to be a classroom teacher yet.
There is a big difference between working one day a week with relatively motivated students and running a classroom day after day, five classes a day, including lesson plans, teaching to students without a sound foundation in prior materials, evaluating their learning, preparing them for standardized tests and dealing with bored and/or misbehaving students. I think you would be a much better teacher if you had the opportunity to do some student teaching where you observe and then gradually take over a class under the supervision of an experienced teacher.

Teaching is very demanding profession. It may be underpaid and schools may be desperate enough to hire untrained staff but if you really care about being a good teacher, get some training instead of putting yourself and others through the unpleasant, sink or swim experience of learning on the job.
posted by metahawk at 10:12 AM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Check into your state's alternative certification programs. In many states you can take a subject area test and get a "temporary" certification - usually for 2-3 years. With the temporary certificate, you can secure a teaching position and then you finish up whatever coursework or tests are required to obtain full certification.

You can find out how things work where you are at your state's Department of Education website.
posted by Edelweiss at 10:54 AM on May 14, 2008

I might also look at starting a math learning center. Something along the lines of a Kuman or Mathnasium. I know some people involved in Mathnasium and it's a pretty lucrative business that can satisfy the teaching bug.

If that is not to speed you may also want to check with various religious schools. They have to have secular programs of education and most of the time these are totally separated from the religious administration. At least that is my experience having taught at a Jewish day school for a year.

Lastly, I have a friend that makes a living doing private tutoring for upper division high school kids. It can be a good life, but you have to get used to having a strange schedule.
posted by skewedoracle at 11:15 AM on May 14, 2008

I don't know what your state's licensure policies are but often you can get an emergency teacher's license or start teaching without a certification if you are currently working on a degree (depends on your background and the state you're in). Check out your state's State Board of Education Website
That same website has the Texas teacher standards. I'd think you'd want to look at your state's standards and try to show how you meet them in an interview, etc. Here's a link to Texas Math Teacher Standards so you'd know what's expected (these are state standards and apply to public schools, as would the certification. While things will differ in a private school, they won't differ that much).

As to how to market yourself, consider your experience/what you know about the following areas:
*curriculum design
*Educational/Learning theory
*classroom management
*partnerships you've had with the community/ networking or professional development experience you have (even if it's in another field- it still shows you make a commitment to professional development)
*knowledge about adolescent development

It sounds like you could find a way to apply a lot of your experience to these concepts if you played with wording/ideas well.

If you're going back to school to get your license I highly recommend joining the Student Program of the National Education Association. Depending on the school you attend there might be a chapter. Chapters should help you with how to market yourself, how to get licensed, basically all the things you don't know about becoming a teacher and all the educational laws that will effect. They'd help you with the sort of thing you seem to be seeking.
posted by bobdylanforever at 1:02 PM on May 14, 2008

If you really want to teach, go for the certificate. It's worth it.

Dunno about your area, but private/catholic schools in PA pay pretty much crap, and they get away with it because they don't have unions.

You may also want to check out Teach for America.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:58 PM on May 14, 2008

Ms. Vegetable jumped right into teaching math out of college with no significant children experience. No marketing was really required, she just shopped around to private schools in the area. There are plenty of schools apparently willing to chew up people with no experience, especially one willing to teach math. She recommends student teaching, since you will be able to work for much more money and you want to know if you hate it like she did.

It's worth remembering that the "math" that you need to teach highschoolers is algebra and some geometry. The competitive advantage that you'll have over more experienced applicants is a willingness to work for less pay with less willing students.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:42 PM on May 14, 2008

Public school teacher here.

OK, here's the deal. You have no idea how lucky you are to be looking for a job teaching math right now. Just about every state is offering emergency teaching credentials to those who want to teach math, science, English, English as a second language, and special ed. It doesn't matter if you have classroom experience or not. Districts will hire you and give you one to two years to complete a teaching certification program. Certification programs typically take one year to complete. Call your local university and ask if they have a program for "emergency permit teachers" or "teaching interns." Talk to an advisor at the university and they'll give you all the information you need. Seriously, dude, it's pretty damn easy to get a job teaching math. I just finished my teaching certification program and there were about 30 math teachers in the program who actually had full time teaching jobs while they were getting their certificates.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:18 PM on May 14, 2008

You already have a competitive advantage over most applicants. Most elementary school teachers have had experience working with kids, but most middle and high school teachers have not had that experience.

If you decide to go the traditional route (i.e., you don't want to be a full time teacher while you get your teaching credential), here's how you would do it:
-Enroll in a teacher education program at a university.
-Take coursework during your first semester
-The university will then find a classroom for you to "student teach" in (i.e., you are in a classroom with a mentor teacher who allows you to observe and transition to teaching the classroom full time). Student teaching typically lasts for one semester.
-You're now fully credentialed and you can begin job hunting.

The advantage to being a "teaching intern" or "emergency permit teacher" is that you are GETTING PAID WHILE YOU TEACH. Being a student teacher is the same as being an unpaid apprentice.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:25 PM on May 14, 2008

« Older Just the thought of a throat culture makes me gag   |   What is this hole in my backyard? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.