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What Classes Can You Expect to Take to Be a High School Math Teacher?

by Gale Thompson, studioD

The education of a high school math teacher varies depending on state, major and program, and often continues after graduation. Some students may choose to major in mathematics and complete an approved teacher education program, or choose to major in secondary mathematics education. It's even possible to earn a bachelor's degree in another subject, as long as required courses and education program are complete. Regardless of major, the coursework is structured to ensure that a prospective math teacher receives state licensure and has all the foundational math knowledge and abilities to educate high school students.

General Education Courses

College students must complete a number of required general education courses before receiving a degree. Many of these courses will be helpful to future teachers as well. Students should begin by taking classes in English and composition, followed by speech, communication and introductory sciences like biology or chemistry. Foreign language coursework is also commonly required. Students take general education courses in math as well, depending on incoming placement. Common courses include pre-calculus, calculus and statistics.

Mathematics Courses

Once the introductory math courses are complete, a further sequence of math coursework is required. These courses, from linear algebra to trigonometry, further increase the future teacher's subject area knowledge and experience in all types of math. The Math Education and Mathematics Double Major content requirements at the University of Maryland include courses like Calculus I, II and III, Linear Algebra, Algebraic Structure and Abstract Algebra, Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometries and Statistics Theory. Students must earn a grade of C or better in these courses.

Education and Professionalization Courses

Along with the content coursework, math education students should expect to take courses related to secondary school instruction and curriculum. Courses commonly include a survey of the foundations of education, including the history and theories of the American public school system and of teaching as a profession, and a course introducing students to human growth and development as it pertains to education. The College of Charleston Secondary Education department also offers a class on Classroom and Behavior Management, as well as Integrating Technology into Teaching. Courses on teaching strategies and assessment will often be required as well.

Student Teaching Requirements

Teacher education programs require students to experience the classroom with observed, real-life situations. Once students have completed their professional requirements, they will begin a clinical internship or student teaching experience with a working high school instructor. Generally, students will partake in this field experience during their senior year. During this semester, students will often combine the experience with a teaching seminar in math education and another course in professionalization or diversity.


Programs often require a number of electives to be completed before students can receive a diploma. Future teachers may find these courses helpful for their future careers or postgraduate education by taking even more upper-level mathematics courses or mathematics instruction courses. For example, the University of Georgia offers electives in Mathematics in Context, Contemporary School Mathematics, Problem Solving in Mathematics and Historical and Cultural Foundations of Mathematics. Boise State University's mathematics instruction courses include Geometry for the Classroom, Statistics for the Classroom and Technology in the Secondary Mathematics Classroom.

About the Author

Gale Marie Thompson's work has been published in "Denver Quarterly," "Los Angeles Review" and "Best New Poets 2012." Thompson holds a BA in English and creative writing from the College of Charleston, a MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is working on a PhD at the University of Georgia.

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