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What Does a Math Teacher Do?

A. Pasbjerg
Updated Jan 22, 2024
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A math teacher is responsible for instructing students in mathematics. He or she may teach one or many types of math, such as algebra, geometry, or calculus. Math teachers can work at the secondary school level or the college level. They must have a solid understanding of all the mathematical concepts in the subjects they are teaching, and also need to know the educational standards for what must be covered in each.

In order to prepare for each day's class, a math teacher will develop lesson plans. A lesson plan is a guide for what the teacher wants to teach that day, including the concepts to be covered, how long it will take to discuss each topic, and problems for the students to practice. Often the lesson plan will follow the topics covered in the course textbook. The level of detail in the lesson plan will likely depend on the teacher's level of comfort with the material.

Once the lesson is developed, the math teacher must then deliver it to the class. This may be accomplished in different ways, depending on the material being covered and the teacher's preference. A lecture, where the teacher is doing most of the speaking to convey information and also answering questions, may be most appropriate. It may be useful for students to spend a portion of the lesson reading from the textbook. A more interactive approach, where students work together in pairs or groups to discuss concepts, could also be used.

Typically, a math teacher will assign homework to ensure that the students have absorbed the concepts taught during the lesson and give them a chance to practice. The teacher may design his or her own homework problems, or assign ones from the textbook. He or she will set a deadline for the homework to be turned in, usually the following day. It is then the teacher's responsibility to check it and provide feedback to the students so they know what areas they have understood and where they need improvement.

Once the teacher has taught a certain number of lessons, he or she will normally test the class. Tests will often cover a variety of related topics and will require the students to know the appropriate theories, equations, and formulas. The math teacher may develop new tests each time or re-use previous exams if that is appropriate. After the students have taken the test, the teacher will then need to check and grade them.

In addition to planning lessons and teaching in the classroom, most math teachers will also tutor individual students. Math teachers can work with individuals from their classes or other students from the school. Since most math teachers train in a wide range of mathematical skills, they can usually tutor students at various grade levels. A math teacher could also work as an online math tutor and help students with virtual tutoring sessions. Tutoring, in addition to teaching a class, can supplement a math teacher’s income and allow them to improve their pedagogy.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A. Pasbjerg
By A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a WiseGeek contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
Discussion Comments
By indigomoth — On Sep 03, 2011

@KoiwiGal - Sometimes people aren't meant to be teachers though. I know I had a friend who thought he wanted to be a teacher. And once he got out there, he realized it wasn't for him.

I imagine being a math teacher could be even more difficult, because kids usually aren't all that enthusiastic about maths.

If you aren't going to be able to show them what to be excited about, you should maybe think about doing something else.

I have a lot of respect for teachers who do continue in that job. It's a very difficult one, and we need more people willing to do it.

By KoiwiGal — On Sep 03, 2011

My father was a math teacher. He always talked about how the first year is definitely the hardest, for a new teacher.

You'll be trying to get to know your school and learn new techniques for getting through to your kids.

But, you'll also be creating a lesson plan for the year. Once you have a basic lesson plan established, you won't have to stay up nights and develop it and you can breath a little bit more.

Just remember there are a lot of math teacher specific resources out there to help you. I know there are never enough math teachers to meet demand, so it's a good job to stick with if you can get past the first year.

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a WiseGeek contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
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