how to become a high school math teacher

Calculus. Algebra. Geometry. Fractions. Times tables. For some people, reading about mathematics makes them cringe and shudder. But for others, the world of math is a wonderful place where things make sense, where there is a right answer, and where they find order and organization. If you’re interested in becoming a mathematics teacher, it’s key to know what the requirements are, what the career path looks like, and how you can prepare for this exciting profession.

how to become a high school math teacher

High school teacher in math class at white board

What Is a Math Teacher?

Students need good mathematics teachers to help them grasp important concepts and find a love for mathematics. There are math teachers at every level of education from grade school all the way through high school. A math teacher helps students learn the concepts they’ll need to progress and take more advanced math classes in the future. For instance, a pre-algebra teacher has a great responsibility to prepare students for algebra, just as a pre-calculus teacher should teach their students the preliminary concepts and formulas that’ll get them ready for calculus.

Students learn mathematics in many grade levels, from the time they are in kindergarten all the way through high school and beyond. So it’s extremely important that they have good math teachers who can help them crack the code of math, preparing them for each new concept and level of learning. Many professions require a great understanding of math, and even if a student goes into a profession that doesn’t rely on mathematics, they will need to know and understand it for their daily life.

What Does a Math Teacher Do?

The main role of a mathematics teacher is to teach lessons to students that help them learn mathematical concepts and understand the connections between abstract concepts and real-world problems. They help students build on their existing knowledge to continue to learn more advanced math concepts.

Every math teacher has to:

  • Organize and manage their classroom. Maintaining order in the classroom is one of the key roles of a teacher and it plays a big role in each student’s ability to learn. 
  • Incorporate best practices and establish teaching goals. Math teachers work with their department colleagues and administrators to continually grow and improve their teaching.
  • Plan lessons that align with teaching goals and standards. Everything that a math teacher presents to students in their lesson plans should align to specific goals and state standards for education. 
  • Assign homework. It takes a lot of work outside of the classroom for students to get better at math. Homework should help cement the skills they’re learning in class.
  • Grade exams and assignments. Much of a math teacher’s team is spent grading. It’s critical for students to understand what they’re not grasping so they can learn and improve. 
  • Determine grading standards and issue final grades. Teachers should take time to decide on grading standards and be fair when issuing final grades. Students should have a clear understanding of what’s expected.
  • Stay up-to-date on mathematics teaching standards and requirements. Every math teacher should know which skills their students need to master in order to advance. Teachers should be learning the latest strategies to help students learn.
  • Work one-on-one with students who may need additional help. Personal tutoring plays a key role in student progress, particularly in math. Holding office hours before or after school can help students who need extra support. 
  • Administer state-specific tests to gauge student progress. Often math teachers are required by the state to issue certain tests. Using these tests to determine student proficiency and making teaching adjustments and recommendations where needed are critical parts of a teacher’s job.

Meet with parents to assess what students need. Some students struggle because they have a hard time focusing. Others just aren’t grasping a specific concept. Teachers work closely with the parents of struggling students to determine what can be done to help them succeed.

Math Concepts Taught by Grade.


Elementary school students learn basic math concepts including:

  • Addition and subtraction
  • Multiplication and division
  • Fractions 
  • Prime numbers 
  • Percents 
  • Decimals
  • Basic geometry and pre-algebra

Middle School

Middle school students build on many foundational concepts learned in elementary school including fractions, decimals, and percents. They’ll also learn how to:

  • Master intermediate and advanced geometry and algebra
  • Solve equations and inequalities, 
  • Find the area of shapes, and learn 
  • Graph linear equations and inequalities

High School

High school students often learn more advanced math concepts and take higher-level courses. They learn about quadratic equations, derivatives, integrals, and often statistics. Many high schools offer advanced placement (AP) classes that give students the chance to prepare for and pass a test to earn college credit. Common high school math courses include: 

  • Advanced algebra
  • Pre-calculus
  • Calculus AB
  • Calculus BC
  • Statistics 

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