High School Science Teacher Job Description
High school science teachers teach students in grades nine through 12 on a specific scientific subject. High school science teachers may teach biology, physics, chemistry, or astronomy, among others. They may also be required to teach a combination of these studies, depending on school budgetary and staffing concerns. At the minimum, this entry-level profession requires a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate. Some schools may require a master’s degree in the specific scientific field that the teacher teaches. High school science teachers typically work during regular school hours, but they often work longer than full-time hours preparing lessons and grading assignments. Science teachers report directly to the school administrators such as the principal and vice principal.
High School Science Teacher Duties and Responsibilities
High school science teachers have a variety of responsibilities, which may vary depending on the school and specific subject. Based on the postings we researched, these core responsibilities are usually assigned to high school science teachers:
Develop and Teach Curriculum
The bulk of high school science teachers’ time is spent planning the curriculum for their classes and then delivering that curriculum. Science teachers tailor their lessons to the age group of the students they are teaching. Science subjects also often involve hands-on demonstrations, which the teachers plan and perform.
Evaluate and Mentor Students
Teachers evaluate and mentor their students. Evaluations usually take the form of grading homework, tests, and projects. Teachers keep records of these grades so students, parents, and school administrators know where the students stand. High school science teachers also mentor students, encouraging them to excel in their schooling. They may also work closely with students interested in the sciences and help direct them to the right educational path.
Collaborate with Teachers and Parents
The successful education of high school students is often a collaboration involving other teachers and the students’ parents. High school science teachers collaborate with other teachers and parents to support the positive progress of their students. This usually involves participating in parent-teacher conferences and school staff meetings.
Enforce Rules and Discipline Students
High school science teachers enforce school and classroom rules and discipline students, when necessary. This can be a difficult task, but it is necessary to ensure a safe school environment in which all students can freely learn without having to worry about disruptions.
Plan and Supervise Extra-Curricular Activities
High school science teachers may also be involved in extra-curricular activities such as science fairs, science clubs, and other activities. Many times, these extra-curricular activities are volunteer based.
High School Science Teacher Skills and Qualifications
High school science teachers should be well educated and articulate, able to form and present concepts in a clear manner to young minds. Most high schools require science teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate for the state where they are located. Most schools prefer their science teachers to have a master’s degree, as well. Schools also tend to hire candidates with the following skills:
- Classroom technology – in today’s world of ever-present technology, high school science teachers should be familiar with classroom technology such as whiteboards, computers, tablets, overhead projectors, and online learning management systems
- Classroom management – high school science teachers should be able to manage a classroom full of teenage students. This includes being able to hold their attention, discipline when needed, and be quick on their feet to answer unexpected questions. Science teachers should also know when to sideline a discussion to stay on topic
- Curriculum development – since teachers spend the bulk of their time teaching, they should be well versed in curriculum planning and development. This involves creating presentations, handouts, homework, and other items related to the lesson
- Communication skills – high school science teachers communicate with students, teachers, and parents. They should be able to express both their praise and concerns appropriately
- High motivation and enthusiasm – students often respond directly to the mood of their teachers. As such, high school science teachers should bring a high level of motivation and enthusiasm to each of their classes
High School Science Teacher Tools of the Trade
High school science teachers often use the following tools in their day-to-day work:
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Data analysis tools
- Course management tools (Blackboard, Moodle, Google Classroom)
- Google Apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.)
- Laboratory equipment
High School Science Teacher Education and Training
High school science teachers can typically obtain employment with a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate in the state where they are located. However, more and more schools are requiring teachers to have master’s degrees, especially in the sciences. High school science teachers, in particular, benefit from additional qualifications and training in their specific scientific subject.
High School Science Teacher Salary and Outlook
High school science teachers make an average salary of $58,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top ten percent of science teachers earn around $92,000 per year, while the bottom ten percent make around $38,000 per year. Full-time high school science teachers usually receive a healthy benefits package from the schools, including health insurance and vacation time. Teachers usually have the summer months off since their students are not in school.
The BLS charts high school science teacher growth at eight percent, which is comparable to the growth experienced in other industries. As growth continues, schools will likely hire more science teachers as STEM fields become more popular among younger generations.
High School Science Teacher Helpful Resources
Do you want to become a high school science teacher? Look through some of the following resources to learn more about this career and what you can do to pursue it:
National Science Teachers Association – This organization’s mission is “to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.” Founded in 1944, it is the largest organization of science teachers, administrators, scientists, and business professionals in the world.
National Education Association – The NEA works to advance the cause of public schools by providing resources to teachers across the country. Its website includes a wealth of resources, including education news and educational tools such as lesson plans.
Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World – This best selling book by Tony Wagner outlines the things teachers and other people in positions of influence over children should do to help students become creative innovators. It profiles contemporary innovators from well-known companies such as Apple to help provide real-world, hard-hitting examples.
Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era – High school science teachers are all about innovation, and they should instill that in their students. This book helps teachers find new ways to prepare their students for a new age of education and innovation. It’s become the basis for a major documentary and changes the way teachers look at the current education system.
Teach Science Well and Maintain Your Sanity – This Facebook group was created in 2017 with the intent of creating a safe place for science teachers to collaborate and discuss new ideas in the world of science teaching. With over 4,000 members sharing resources, it offers a great opportunity for new and experienced high school science teachers alike.
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