What does a Physics Teacher do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 January 2017
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A physics teacher is a teacher who provides instruction in physics. To become a physics teacher, someone generally needs to be a physicist with a teaching credential. Physics teachers work all over the world, offering instruction at a variety of levels, and many belong to professional organizations which are designed to promote excellence and high standards in the teaching of physics, such as the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) in the United States.

A common site for a physics teacher to work in is a high school. High school physics can include introductions to very basic concepts which are designed to help students fulfill science requirements, along with advanced instruction to gifted and talented students who want to further their physics education as much as possible before going to college. High school physics teachers usually deal with third and fourth year students, because students in lower grades tend to lack the prerequisite courses needed to start taking physics classes.

Physics teachers can also work in lower schools, providing introductions to scientific concepts for younger students. This practice is more common in schools with aggressive academic programs which want to provide their students with as many opportunities as possible. Physics teachers who work with students before high school tend to work primarily with extremely gifted students who have shown an aptitude for the sciences.

A physics teacher may also work as a tutor, assisting individual students with topics in physics. Physics tutors can be found at the high school, college, and university level. Some tutors are advanced physics students who are currently attending university, using tutoring as a source of supplemental income. Students who are being homeschooled may also retain a tutor as their curricula advance.

Some physics teachers specialize in providing a generalized physics education which introduces students to key concepts, gets students familiar with the basic laws of physics, and provides a solid grounding which will help students later in life whether or not they choose to pursue a scientific education. Other physics teachers may offer instruction in advanced topics to their students; schools with a focus on the sciences may offer a range of physics electives so that students have an opportunity to explore specific topics of interest.

Physics programs can also be offered as part of a continuing education program in some workplaces. In this case, the physics teacher is working with adults who are interested in advancing their education so that they have more opportunities. Physics instruction in the workplace can also include physics-related safety topics, such as courses on how to work with lasers.


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