Mathematics Teacher Career

The study of mathematics – from the basics taught during the elementary years, to advanced math taught at the secondary level – encourages the development of problem solving, logical reasoning, and flexible thinking skills. Math teachers help impart not only the most fundamental of skills, but also some of the most valuable. This is particularly true now, as the most high-demand professional fields are also the most math-intensive.

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The dedicated work of America’s math teachers is largely responsible for producing tomorrow’s most sought-after professionals in the fields of science, technology and engineering; helping to ensure that the United States continues to remain a strong competitor in the global job market of the 21st century.

Math Teacher Job Description

A mathematics teacher’s job description will, of course, vary depending on the grade that is being taught; however, general job duties typically include:

  • Planning, developing and executing lessons that reflect the curriculum and the state’s core educational standards
  • Adapting mathematics curriculum for individual, small group, and remedial instruction to meet the needs of identified students or subgroups of students
  • Evaluating the academic and social growth of students
  • Evaluating student progress and the ability to meet courses standards in mathematical knowledge and skills
  • Establishing and maintaining standards of student behavior
  • Planning and developing lesson plans and teaching outlines
  • Employing a variety of methodologies in teaching and instructing pupils, including demonstrations, discussions, and lectures
  • Utilizing educational equipment, such as materials, books, and other learning aids


Mathematics Teacher Careers: A Focus on Common Core Standards

In most states, math standards are dictated by the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM), which are seen as the evolution of mathematics education. The CCSSM is focused on common, specific, and grade-level focused learning goals for math. Along with mandated, grade-level assessments, which are aligned with the CCSSM, these standards provide mathematics teachers with a guide for developing and teaching math curricula and allow schools and school districts to focus their math programs on specific mathematical content and processes.

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The following are key changes in mathematics curricula under the Common Core:

  • A greater focus on fewer mathematical topics, which include concepts, skills, and problem solving related to:
    • Grades K-2: Addition and subtraction
    • Grades 3-5: Multiplication and division of whole numbers and fractions
    • Grade 6: Ratios and proportional relationships, and early algebraic expressions and equations
    • Grade 7: Ratios and proportional relationships, and arithmetic of rational numbers
    • Grade 8: Linear algebra and linear functions


Teaching Math Concepts By Grade Level

Although the mathematical content taught by math teachers will ultimately vary from one classroom to the next, a shift to “aligned and rigorous” assessments, means that math teachers can expect to teach the following math concepts, by grade level:

Kindergarten: Math teachers focus on two critical areas, including whole numbers and shapes and space.

Grade 1: Instructional time for first grade teachers is focused on four, critical areas:

  • Addition and subtraction
  • Addition and subtraction strategies up to 20
  • Whole number relationships and place values
  • Linear measurement and measuring lengths units
  • Geometric shapes

Grade 2: Teachers with second graders focus their curriculum on four, critical areas:

  • Building fluency with addition and subtraction
  • Base-ten notation
  • Standard units of measure
  • Shapes

Grade 3: Teachers focus on four, critical areas in grade 3:

  • Fractions, especially unit fractions
  • Multiplication and division strategies up to 100
  • The structure of rectangular arrays and of area
  • Two-dimensional shapes

Grade 4: The focus of 4th grade instructional teams should be on three areas:

  • Multi-digit multiplication and multi-digit dividends
  • Analyzing and classifying geometric figures based on their properties
  • Fraction equivalence, multiplication of fractions by whole numbers, addition and subtraction of fractions with like denominators

Grade 5: Fifth grade instructional teams should be focused on three, critical areas:

  • Addition and subtraction of fractions
  • Integrating decimal fractions into the place value system
  • Whole number and decimal operations

Grade 6: Math teachers teaching 6th grade typically focus their instructional time on four, critical areas, including:

  • Ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division;
  • Division of fractions
  • Writing, interpreting, and using expressions and equations
  • Developing an understanding of statistical thinking

Grade 7: Math teachers with students in the 7th grade should be focused on:

  • Operations with rational numbers
  • Proportional relationships
  • Working with expressions and linear equations
  • Problems involving scale drawings and geometric constructions
  • Working with two- and three-dimensional shapes to solve problems involving surface area, area, and volume
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Grade 8: Math teachers with 8th grade students should focus on three, critical areas, including:

  • Formulating and reasoning with expressions and equations
  • The concept of function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships, two- and three-dimensional space and figures; and then analyzing them using angle, distance, congruence, and similarity
  • Understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem

High School Standards: High school standards are focused on ensuring all students are college and career ready and should include additional mathematics that prepares students to take advanced courses such as calculus, discrete mathematics, and advanced statistics. High school standards are typically listed in conceptual categories:

  • Number and quantity
  • Algebra
  • Functions
  • Modeling
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and probability

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