subjects that every United States high school student is required to take. These subjects include: English, science, social studies, and mathematics.
Teaching high school students can be challenging, exciting and rewarding. High school teachers have a wonderful opportunity to shape the minds of developing adolescents and to help guide them into their post-secondary experiences in college, trade schools, or in the world of work. High school teachers not only serve as classroom educators, but also as mentors, advisers and counselors who have a profound impact on the lives of young people inside and outside of the traditional classroom. People with a passion for education and who love working with adolescents may consider a career teaching high school students.
High School Teacher Responsibilities
High school (or secondary education) teachers are responsible for teaching students a variety of core subjects and elective classes. Teachers are also charged with helping to instill transferable skills that will help adolescents transition to life after high school. Secondary education has typically focused on preparing adolescents for higher education or for careers in industries, trades or professions that do not require an academic degree.
Curriculum and Teacher Roles
Unlike their elementary school counterparts, high school teachers usually teach multiple classes in a particular subject. High school teachers do not teach all core subjects; instead, high school teachers often specialize in one or two fields of study. For example, if you are certified to teach science, you might teach multiple classes in biology and earth science. As subject content specialists, high school educators are responsible for helping to design curricula based on their subject expertise and state standards. There is wide variance in the curriculum required each year, but many American high schools require that students learn the content of courses in the "core" areas of English, science, social studies, and mathematics. Students are expected to take these courses, for the most part, every year until they graduate from secondary education. The majority of high schools require four English credits to graduate, three science courses - Biology, chemistry, and physics are usually offered. Three math credits are required for graduation; high school mathematics courses typically include pre-algebra, algebra I, geometry, algebra II, and trigonometry classes. Mandated social science classes include world history, U.S. history, government, and economics. Students are also required to take two years of physical education (usually referred to as "gym," "PE" or "phys ed" by students).
In addition to the core classes mentioned above, many states mandate that students take a health or wellness course in order to graduate. The class typically covers basic anatomy, nutrition, first aid, sexual education, and how to make responsible decisions regarding illegal drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. In some places contraception is not allowed to be taught for religious reasons. In other places, the health and physical education class are combined into one class or are offered in alternate semesters.
In some private schools, such as Catholic schools, theology is required before a student graduates. The wide variety of classes taught in high school can provide potential high school teachers with multiple roles to fill and multiple options for certification.
Secondary school teachers are certified in one of two areas for secondary education: middle school or high school (and in some states, certification can be to teach grades 6-12). These certifications can overlap. In Missouri, for example, middle school certification covers grades 6–8, elementary school certification covers up to grade 5, and high school certification covers grades 9–12. This reflects the wide range of grade combinations of middle schools, junior high schools, and elementary schools. Alternatively, some states certify teachers in various curricular areas (such as math or history) to teach secondary education. Some states also support reciprocity, which means that if you are certified to teach secondary education in one state, you do not have to get re-certified if you move to another state. However, if you do plan to move to another state during your educational career, you should consider obtaining a national certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. All states recognize the National Board certification.
As with all public school teachers, high school teachers must have a bachelor's degree generally in education or in their subject area concentration. As a potential high school classroom teacher, you will need to complete a student teaching practicum while being observed, supervised and evaluated by a veteran teacher. Some states might also require obtaining a master's degree. Earning postgraduate degree can often move you up on the pay scale in the public school system.