Since the Common Core Standards were released in 2010, educators have been pressured to teach a deeper level of mathematics. General education teachers who lack a math background are finding it difficult to teach in-depth concepts like statistics, geometry, ratios, and algebra. To smooth the transition, many school districts have begun hiring math support teachers. These skilled, licensed professionals help teachers better understand mathematics content to improve curriculum delivery. Math support teachers arm educators with the latest pedagogical methods and classroom technologies to nurture students’ love for numbers. One NSF-funded study in Virginia discovered that elementary schools employing a math support teacher had significantly higher standardized test scores in mathematics.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 1.38 million elementary school teachers, including math specialists, earn a mean annual wage of $57,730. The additional 632,760 employed as middle school teachers bring home an average yearly salary of $58,760. Math support teachers can generally expect a base salary between $50,000 and $70,000. Salary.com also adds in healthcare benefits, pensions, social security, and vacation for an average compensation of $78,897.
The National Education Association (NEA) reports that the average starting teacher salary is presently $36,141. States like South Dakota offer considerably lower starting points at $29,851, whereas states like New Jersey have higher salary starts at $48,631. However, senior math support teachers could eventually earn upwards of $85,550 in elementary and $87,060 in middle schools. Those advancing into collegiate teacher training earn up to $132,620 yearly.
Math support teachers have the unique responsibility of instructing fellow teachers on the best practices to foster youth’s numerical analysis skills and content mastery. They form mentoring relationships while working as co-teachers for a cohesive mathematics program. Math support teachers will offer helpful input to improve lesson plans and brainstorm class projects that will allow students’ hands-on practice. They must take into consideration each child’s instructional needs, including those diagnosed with dyscalculia or related disorders. Rather than evaluate teachers like supervisors, they provide ongoing support to sharpen teachers’ ability to lecture on complex math concepts. Math support teachers may also organize professional development workshops for whole-school improvements.
Knowing advanced arithmetic functions is an obvious requirement for math support teachers, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Communication skills are essential to concisely convey recommendations on new teaching strategies. Math support teachers must be good listeners to pinpoint their mentees’ worries and difficulties with the content. Having excellent problem-solving skills helps them creatively conquer any classroom mishaps hindering mathematical learning. Math support teachers need patience to instruct both children and adults on the useful applications of various calculations. Leadership skills are important to respectfully assist teachers under their wing with a positive, encouraging attitude. Math support teachers should also have compassion, organizational skills, analytical ability, and a team-playing approach.
Degree and Education Requirements
Fulfilling your state’s teacher preparation qualifications is necessary to become a math support teacher. Generally, this means obtaining at least a four-year undergraduate degree. Most choose to major in mathematics while completing their college’s CAEP-accredited education program. Finishing the bachelor’s with a good GPA is the first step; however, math support teachers often head to graduate school. Holding a Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) with an emphasis in mathematics can prove invaluable. Some universities also offer graduate certificates or Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) programs centered on math education. Earning a doctorate is wholly optional, but it could lead to post-secondary teaching opportunities.
Pros and Cons of the Position
Becoming a math support teacher can be a rewarding career move, but the title comes with added obstacles though. On the bright side, math support teachers share their passion for numbers and equations to create a fun learning atmosphere. Since the job description isn’t rigid, each day can involve assisting teachers in unique ways. Math support teachers are rewarded with a decent salary and excellent benefits, including summer vacations. Rising demand for STEM is making the career blossom with prospects. Math support teachers also receive the intrinsic reward of making math less worrisome for both students and educators. On the other hand, the profession has added Common Core stress as school districts strive for better test scores. Math support teachers are in shorter supply than math teachers, so job hunting can still be tough. Extensive training in both math and education is required, which can be costly on a teacher’s modest salary. Math support teachers also have a physically demanding job traveling between classrooms and leading class instruction on foot.
Earning apt teaching credentials and experience is imperative to becoming a math support teacher. Throughout your schooling, get into math classrooms with field practicum, internships, or volunteer service. Some aspiring educators will work part-time as teacher’s aides while finishing their bachelor’s. One student teaching semester is typically required to pursue state certification. Taking the Praxis content exam in mathematics is also suggested. Licensed individuals should then gain experience in elementary or secondary math teaching. Math support teachers will generally need at least years of previous experience, preferably in teacher leadership or coaching. Becoming a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) could also aid in networking.
America’s education sector has been pushing toward STEM subjects to improve students’ achievement and future job prospects. In 2009, U.S. teenagers ranked 31st worldwide in math mastery after Singapore, Germany, Britain, China, and more. President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union called for 100,000 new teachers in STEM. Demand is especially high in elementary and middle schools where educators don’t have a hefty math background. Employment of K-6 teachers will grow by 6 percent through 2024. Middle schools will experience the same average job growth of 6 percent. Math support teachers can maximize their employability with a master’s degree and specialized mathematics experience.
Overall, math support teachers work collaboratively with other licensed educators to help enhance the learning process and surpass student objectives. They’re important because even teachers can struggle with puzzling math concepts like inverse fractions, division algorithm, and probability. Support teachers with a strong mathematical background play a pivotal role in coaching instructors on optimal techniques to grasp students’ attention. If you work towards becoming a math support teacher, you’ll have an exciting teacher leadership position disproving mathematics’ bad, boring reputation.