Should I become a physics teacher?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by noone1982, May 27, 2007.

  1. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    I'm getting my physics bachelors in december. I always enjoyed tutoring. I just love explaining physics to people, whether they like it or not! I use to hang out at the math tutoring center and gained satisfaction knowing someone finally understood by my intervention. I consider teaching to be a worthwhile profession.

    It's discouraging though. I tell people I want to be a physics teacher and they try to talk me out of it! I'v had such remarks as "You're not living up to your potential" and "You'll make more at McDonalds" and so forth.

    I realize I'll make a ton more in the 'physics industry' but without a PhD or a masters, I am out of luck besides doing junk work like data entry, modelling or programming.

    In my area (Massachusetts) teachers start out at around 34-37k and make almost 55k around their 10th year. I obtained this info from teacher contract books. For someone that is as cheap as they come, this is more than enough and I also have a small royalty income.

    Any high school physics teachers like to chime in? How it's "really" like? Advice? Hints? Words of warning or encouragment? Anything!

    Or does anyone know if there are grants or scholarships or what not for future physics teachers?
     
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  3. Lyquidphyre

    Lyquidphyre Comrade

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    I'm going into high school biology, but I have known I have wanted to teach since I was little. One thing you could do is substitute teach at the high school level to see if you want to work with that age group. I have been subbing this past semester and loved it!
    I understand what you are saying when you tell people you are thinking about teaching when you have a degree in a science. You have to figure out what makes you happy. You can either make alot of money at a job you don't like a bunch, or love your job and make enough money to get by.
    Think of it this way, if you start teaching because you think it will make you happy and you absolutely hate it, you have a degree in Physics to fall back on.

    Because science is a critical needs area, Im sure you can find a some grants and scholarships.
     
  4. eightlgddj

    eightlgddj Rookie

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    You can make a good living as a physics teacher, especially now! I just got a physics teaching job after my second interview, and negotiated a higher than average salary as a first year teacher. You won't find the kind of flexibility anywhere else, since it is in such high demand. You can teach anywhere. There are also many schools (primarily private) that are embracing a physics-first curriculum, and need loads of physics teachers who can teach from a conceptual level (from your post, you'd be ideal for this!). In many public school districts, physics teachers are offered signing bonuses or something similar.

    Don't let anyone discourage you! Our nation needs physics teachers.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    One thinks of Sir Thomas More counseling Richard Rich on career choices in Bolt's A Man for All Seasons:

    Not much to add to that, is there?

    Though if you'd be so kind as to give me contact info for the people telling you that you "wouldn't be living up to your potential" by teaching physics,...

    [insert here TeacherGroupie rummaging around for a stout yardstick and a fresh supply of dunce caps]

    ... I would be delighted to undertake their... reeducation.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    TG, you've made your point as elegantly as always.

    I detest Physics, but I'm a secondary math teacher. I can tell you that I've never had trouble finding a job-- the three times I've looked since 1980 I've had multiple offers. Good Physics teachers are much harder to find than math teachers.

    And there will ALWAYS be people who try to rain on your parade, no matter which decision we're discussing. They'll second guess your choice of a spouse or lack thereof, whether you have kids too early or too late, what name you give that child, where you live, when you have dinner, and anything else you can think of. Learn to smile politely and walk away.

    Or, to add my own quote, let's listen to Rick Nelson:
    "You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself."

    Teach Physics. You'll love it!!
     
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Physics teachers are extremely hard to find. I know in my school we only have one physics teacher. I know that Mansfield will need a new physics teacher this year as my friend is the department head their.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Darn. I was going for "forcefully."
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Potato, potato, tomato, tomato.

    Besides, I would much prefer an elegant argument to a forceful one :)
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    OK... 5 minutes later I get it.."Forces" and physics..


    Did I mention that I hate physics????
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Something tells me you're going to know lots about the practical aspects of physics by the time you're done raising Kira...
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That and the chemical properties of alcohol!!!
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Inside knowledge, obviously!
     
  14. jojo808

    jojo808 Comrade

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    May 27, 2007

    Follow your heart.

    BTW, I LOVED my physics teacher. I was convinced I was never going to get it, but he taught in such a way that it made sense to me. Physics even became fun (okay, that was a stretch but he was a fun teacher!) I will never forget his patience and his enthusiasm. Good luck!
     
  15. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    You have all been very encouraging. It's so ironic that that the people telling me not to go into the teaching profession have no experience or knowledge in it at all. By the way you all talk, it seems you are all content which is welcoming.

    I heard for the first year of teaching one should avoid as much as possible any extra-curricular activities or events as not to overwhelm oneself.

    As I said, I will (better) graduate in December with a BS in Physics. I plan to enter the year long initial teacher licensing program. Is there anything I need to do before that?

    I plan to get a masters of education online whilst I am teaching. Has anyone done that?

    I'm hearing alot about proffesional development. I am not sure what exactly this is, does it mean you must take more and more education classes while you're teaching? Is it overwhelming? Helpful?
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    For what it's worth, I'm guessing you could find a job teaching Physics in January if you're lucky, credentials or not.

    Physics teachers are THAT hard to find!

    I coached Speech & Debate my first year: practice every day after school, meets every Saturday from October through March. Was I busy? Sure. (Keep in mind though: this was before marriage or kids.) Was it do-able? Sure.
     
  17. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I loved HS physics! I can't imagine a physics teacher having a hard time finding a job. I say go for it. If you are concerned about money you could look into being an adjunct professor at a local junior college or any university. The schools around me are always looking for science for non-science majors teachers.
     
  18. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    I'm glad to see some people like physics :)

    It's nice being in a high demand segment. How much more do you think a physics teacher could negotiate for?

    Is the situation that bad where a school would just hire a physics bachelor without the teacher training? That'd be pretty sweet
     
  19. eightlgddj

    eightlgddj Rookie

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    It depends on the school, really. I'm not sure about public schools at all. I manged $+4K at a private school.

    I didn't have zero experience, but I had zero high school experience. I was a teaching assistant at the university level for 6 months before I applied. Experience isn't necessary everywhere, but you obviously have to prove that you are devoted to teaching, and to teaching high school specifically. If possible, I'd recommend getting a reference from someone who supervised you as a tutor. Definitely get as much experience as possible this summer, tutoring high school students, or involved somehow in summer school. If there is a local summer physics course, you may even be able to convince the teacher to let you teach a few lessons! That way you'll have a better idea of what teaching is like, as opposed to tutoring.
     
  20. eightlgddj

    eightlgddj Rookie

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    One more thing; for public schools, in most states you'll have to go through the motions of getting temporary/emergency certification. Alternatively, you could go into a fellowship program, like NYC Teaching Fellows, where you will concurrently earn a Masters in Education and certification. At private schools, this usually isn't necessary.
     
  21. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    You'll be hard pressed in most public schools to negotiate a higher salary than what's on the salary schedule. Most districts have a schedule that combines your education (Bachelor's, Bachelors + x-number of hours, Masters, Masters + x-hours, Doctorate...) with your experience (typically your EDICATION experience, and sometimes just the years of PUBLIC school experience or years in their district)... so even though it's a hard-to-fill area, you will probably have a hard time getting extra money for it. ;)
     
  22. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

    I grow excited when I read about teaching. I would love to show students demonstrations of electricity, magnetics, electric fields, pressure effects and so forth. Physics teachers get all the cool toys!! I cant wait to have discussions!

    Then there is that other part of me that would love to work at NASA working on something that would go out into space. To be an aerospace engineer helping the US land on Mars someday. Good stuff. This would ofcourse require advanced degrees such as a masters in aerospace at the very least.

    The problem is that I am at a crossroads. If I pursue a masters in Aerospace engineering, I will be too old to change later on. I turn 25 in July, this may not sound old but I have a family to support and cannot be in school should I change my decision.

    The same applies to getting an initial teaching license. I wont be able to change in the future. It's almost as if my decision now stands forever.

    I want to do both :(
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Meaning no disrespect, noone, but most states do have some provision for people switching careers into teaching, especially from the sciences, and the credentialing programs in my neck of the woods are full of people who are twice your age and more.
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    No decision of this type is irrevocable. You're not to old at 30 or 40 or 50 to change careers if that's what you want to do.
     
  25. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    I have some more questions!

    My question is about this initial licensure program that provides a five year license. If I'm reading this right, it will take a year of intensive studies. The first half is education courses and the second half is student teaching. Does this sound right?

    Is it possible to get such an initial licensure done online? (The coursework part, ofcourse)

    Realistically people, if I get a BS in Physics in December when could I expect to have my own classroom?
     
  26. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    That sounds about par for the course for a post-bachelor's program. There probably IS a way to do the pedagogy part online, though you may want to check with the local hiring authorities to find out their preferences, and as far as I know no one has yet devised a way to student teach online.

    As to getting a classroom, I infer that you're feeling a need for income: you might want to consider substitute teaching as a stopgap.
     
  27. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    Yes, income is essential!

    I cant wait to student teach (yes, not online) but so much coursework these days can be done online.
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    A pain, is it not, that making a living so interferes with having a life...

    What's available in teacher-preparation programs and how it's handled varies from area to area; again, check with the people in your area to find out programs that are favored and programs to avoid. Could be that an option that's more expensive now will save you grief down the road. And of course it makes sense to research scholarships - there might be money from the state or from science teachers' organizations or industry groups for prospective teachers.
     
  29. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    It is not having a life that doesn't bother me, it's surviving!
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Well, that's the extreme case of having a life, no?
     
  31. JVP

    JVP New Member

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    I did not major in Physics but I understand your pain about people trying to talk you out of being a teacher. I graduated in 06 from a top 20 university with a double major in math and economics. Several of my classmates went on to have great starting salaries at various companies. But I love math and like you I loved tutoring. After I graduated from college, I immediately started a masters program in teaching. When people would ask me what I am getting my major in, I would say teaching. They would say "oh" and try to talk me out of being a teacher. I graduated this May from graduate school. I will be a first year teacher starting August in what people consider a "bad" school. People wonder why I want to teach at a school like that. I'm like, those are the only schools I want to teach at. If I didn't have great teachers who taught me in "bad" schools, then I wouldn't be where I am today. Anyway, I feel that I am doing something so fulfilling and I hope to do it for many years.
     
  32. JVP

    JVP New Member

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    I think it depends on what state your in. If you wanted to you can start teaching right away while you take the courses you need. Personally, I did not want to go that route because I wanted to be prepared to teach. I did a MAT program with certification. I started 2 weeks after I graduated from undergrad. It was that summer, the fall, and this spring. In the fall, I had a full courseload and a practicum. The practicum was 10 weeks in the classroom for 2-3 hours a day. Then in the spring I had only 2 classes and I had an internship for 10 weeks spending all day in the classroom. I learned so much during the program and I am glad I went that route. It was still relatively quick (though stressful).
     
  33. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    Well, my route will be a little different. I will be graduating in december, not May. I hope this doesn't foul things up too much.

    So, is there anything for me to do right now? It seems I am always discovering little catches at the last minute. As far as I can tell I need for entry into the initial license program is:

    1) BS in Physics
    2) 3.0 GPA (mine's 3.5)
    3) Application by Dec 1st
    4) GRE Exam

    Will they surprise me with any catches in the last minute? Do I need 4 weeks substituting? Do I need to breathe fire? Will I need to have been a president of a small country for 2 years?

    I compose long emails with in-depth questions to the advisors at the graduate school of education but receive irrelevant responses. This is very discouraging.

    I know some people just go for the masters of education right away. How much course work is overlapped between the initial license and masters of education?
     
  34. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Get your resume out now, with the date of graduation on there.

    You may end up with a long term sub...even Physics teachers sometimes go out on maternity leave.
     
  35. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    As far as I know, most schools do not have a qualified physics teacher on hand. They just get the closest they can.

    Why would a school getting an actual physics teacher make them teach just the physical science and have someone not trained for physics specifically teach physics when I am there?

    I realize I wont just be teaching physics, maybe a physical science and algebra 1 or 2 thrown in there. Though I would surmise I would have something like four physics classes and one lower class a day?
     
  36. DustyPete

    DustyPete Rookie

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    Good lord where I am (Boston, MA area) they are absolutely begging for Physics teachers. You could probably get bonus pay/higher step if you go into Physics Ed.

    Worse, many un/under qualified teachers are teaching Physics in our schools which is a shame. Next they'll ask me to do it...yikes!
     
  37. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    I am in the MA area!
     
  38. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Our school currently gives 7 extra steps in salary pay for highly qualified science teachers. Physics teachers are hard to get and hard to keep. I'm in a title one school and we are still on the lookout for a physcis teacher (in fact for the last two years we have had subs for the position).

    I am currently teaching under emergency certification. I am sure you can easily do the same. The nice part about teaching while you are taking classes is you get a feel for the field. Plus your classes have more meaning.
     
  39. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    In NY, at least, science teachers become qualified for a particular science; it's not an umbrella licence like math.

    So, while I'm qualfied for math 7-12, my friend is certified in Chemistry, not science 7-12.

    We have 2 physics teachers... shows you what the NY market is like.
     
  40. noone1982

    noone1982 Rookie

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    I have another question. When do I take this:

    "Students must pass the Communication and Literacy Test and the specific subject area test of the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure to qualify for state license. "

    Do I take this before or after I enter the initial teacher program?
     

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