A biology teacher could...
|Encourage students to explore how the ecosystem of an aquarium is similar to the ocean's ecosystem.||Introduce students to microscopes and how they're used to see tiny plant and animal structures.|
|Explain to students what DNA is and how genetic mutations can lead to common diseases.||Plan a dissection lesson that will give students a firsthand understanding of anatomy and how their bodies work.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||Life is all around us, in beauty and abundance, and the people who introduce students to how life forms live and interact are biology teachers. Their work helps develop the next generation of doctors, nurses, life scientists, and engineers. Their enthusiasm and appreciation for all life helps students understand their own bodies, and how life forms are all connected to each other and to their environments.|
|Key Requirements||Enthusiasm; extroversion; a positive, patient personality; a love for working with children; and outstanding communication skills|
|Minimum Degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, pre-calculus; if available, additional biology related science classes like biotechnology, marine biology, environmental sciences, physiology|
|Projected Job Growth (2010-2020)||More Slowly than Average (3% to 6%) In Demand!|
Training, Other Qualifications
Biology teachers typically have a bachelor's degree in Biology, with an education minor or emphasis. Public school teachers also must earn a state-level teaching license.
Education and Training
High school biology teachers typically have a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with an education emphasis or minor. Courses in a biology program, with an education emphasis, might include math, chemistry, teaching methods and physics. Public high school biology teachers must be licensed by the state in which they teach. Private schools might not require licensure.
High school biology teachers must be able to keep their students on task and engaged. They need to employ various teaching methods to meet students' individual needs. Being bilingual might give a high school biology teacher an advantage in the job market.
Nature of the Work
High school biology teachers instruct secondary school students in the fundamentals of biology at both private and public schools. They develop engaging curricula, including lab experiments and other scientific investigations; present lessons; and evaluate student performance. High school biology teachers also set and enforce guidelines for classroom behavior and arrange parent-teacher conferences when needed. In addition to teaching, high school biology teachers can work as field biologists or curriculum specialists.
Many teachers work more than 40 hours a week, including school duties performed outside the classroom. Most teachers work the traditional 10-month school year, with a 2-month vacation during the summer. During the vacation break, those on the 10-month schedule might teach in summer sessions, take other jobs, travel, or pursue personal interests. Many enroll in college courses or workshops to continue their education. Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 8 weeks, are on vacation for 1 week, and have a 5-week midwinter break.
Seeing students develop new skills and gain an appreciation of knowledge and learning can be very rewarding. However, teaching can be frustrating when one is dealing with unmotivated or disrespectful students. Occasionally, teachers must cope with unruly behavior and violence in schools. Teachers might experience stress in dealing with large classes, heavy workloads, or old schools that are run down and lack modern amenities. Accountability standards also might increase stress levels, with teachers expected to produce students who are able to exhibit a satisfactory performance on standardized tests in core subjects. Many teachers, particularly in public schools, also are frustrated by the lack of control they have over what they are required to teach.
Teachers are sometimes isolated from their colleagues because they work alone in a classroom of students. However, some schools allow teachers to work in teams and with mentors, to enhance their professional development.
Teachers in private schools generally enjoy smaller class sizes and more control over establishing the curriculum, as well as setting standards for performance and discipline. Their students also tend to be more motivated, since private schools can be selective in their admissions processes.
Most states have tenure laws that prevent public school teachers from being fired without just cause and due process. Teachers may obtain tenure after they have satisfactorily completed a probationary period of teaching, normally 3 years. Tenure does not absolutely guarantee a job, but it does provide some security.
On the Job
- Establish and enforce rules for behavior and procedures for maintaining order among students.
- Instruct through lectures, discussions, and demonstrations in one or more subjects, such as English, mathematics, or social studies.
- Establish clear objectives for all lessons, units, and projects and communicate those objectives to students.
- Prepare, administer, and grade tests and assignments to evaluate students' progress.
- Prepare materials and classrooms for class activities.
- Adapt teaching methods and instructional materials to meet students' varying needs and interests.
- Maintain accurate and complete student records as required by laws, district policies, and administrative regulations.
- Assign and grade class work and homework.
- Observe and evaluate students' performance, behavior, social development, and physical health.
- Enforce all administration policies and rules governing students.
- Plan and conduct activities for a balanced program of instruction, demonstration, and work time that provides students with opportunities to observe, question, and investigate.
- Prepare students for later grades by encouraging them to explore learning opportunities and to persevere with challenging tasks.
- Guide and counsel students with adjustment or academic problems, or special academic interests.
- Instruct and monitor students in the use of equipment and materials to prevent injuries and damage.
- Prepare for assigned classes and show written evidence of preparation upon request of immediate supervisors.
- Use computers, audio-visual aids, and other equipment and materials to supplement presentations.
- Meet with parents and guardians to discuss their children's progress and to determine priorities for their children and their resource needs.
- Confer with parents or guardians, other teachers, counselors, and administrators to resolve students' behavioral and academic problems.
- Prepare objectives and outlines for courses of study, following curriculum guidelines or requirements of states and schools.
- Meet with other professionals to discuss individual students' needs and progress.
- Prepare and implement remedial programs for students requiring extra help.
- Attend professional meetings, educational conferences, and teacher training workshops to maintain and improve professional competence.
- Confer with other staff members to plan and schedule lessons promoting learning, following approved curricula.
- Collaborate with other teachers and administrators in the development, evaluation, and revision of secondary school programs.
- Prepare reports on students and activities as required by administration.
- Select, store, order, issue, and inventory classroom equipment, materials, and supplies.
- Plan and supervise class projects, field trips, visits by guest speakers, or other experiential activities, and guide students in learning from those activities.
- Administer standardized ability and achievement tests and interpret results to determine students' strengths and areas of need.
- Sponsor extracurricular activities such as clubs, student organizations, and academic contests.
- Attend staff meetings and serve on committees, as required.
- Perform administrative duties such as assisting in school libraries, hall and cafeteria monitoring, and bus loading and unloading.
- Provide disabled students with assistive devices, supportive technology, and assistance accessing facilities such as restrooms.
Companies That Hire Biology Teachers
Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...
Do you have a specific question about a career as a Biology Teacher that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.
- National Education Association
- National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
- National Center for Alternative Certification
- National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
- Teacher Education Accreditation Council
- O*Net Online. (2009). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved May 1, 2009, from http://online.onetcenter.org/
- District of Columbia Public Schools. (n.d.). I Am a DCPS Teacher: Alva Hanson. Retrieved August 21, 2010, from http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/About+DCPS/Who+We+Are/I+am+a+DCPS+Teacher/Alva+Hanson
- Study.com. (2010). Biology Teacher: Job Duties and Requirements for Becoming a High School Biology Teacher. Retrieved May 11, 2010, from http://study.com/articles/Biology_Teacher_Job_Duties_and_Requirements_for_Becoming_a_High_School_Biology_Teacher.html
- National Institutes of Health. (2006, April 27). Meet a real Biology Teacher, Secondary, Egda M. Morales-Ramos. Retrieved May 11, 2010, from http://science.education.nih.gov/LifeWorks.nsf/Interviews/Egda+M.+Morales-Ramos
- National Institutes of Health. (2004, April 7). Meet a real Biology Teacher, Secondary, Peggy Deichstetter. Retrieved May 11, 2010, from http://science.education.nih.gov/LifeWorks.nsf/Interviews/Peggy+Deichstetter
- YouTube. (2008, May 27). Mr. Geaney: AP Biology Teacher. Retrieved May 11, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=509oWoEXLXQ