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What is a Physics Teacher?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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A physics teacher is a professional who teaches physics in a school or other scholastic setting. Generally, one is referred to as a physics teacher if he teaches physics below the college level; in college, an instructor in the area of physics is generally referred to as a professor. Physics classes usually begin in high school or secondary school settings, before which students tend to take very general science classes that cover a variety of topics. Even in high school, it is not uncommon for a physics teacher to teach classes that encompass many different aspects of science, such as biology and earth science.

An individual wishing to become a physics teacher generally attends college and majors in physics or a related science. Once he has obtained at least a bachelor's degree, he must also seek some level of teaching certification based on which level of education he plans to teach. If he wishes to teach at a private school or at the college level, this generally is not necessary, though he may be required to have higher than a bachelor's degree in his chosen subject. The certification requirements for teaching in public schools tends to vary based on the area in which one wishes to teach.

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After completing a college education and any required level of certification, an individual must generally go through a period of time acting as a student teacher before teaching independently. During this time, the physics teacher in training can teach and manage a class while being observed by a more experienced physics teacher, who can offer advice. After student teaching for a while, all that remains is to take required certification exams and seek formal employment.

A physics teacher who teaches below the college level generally does not delve into any of the particularly complicated aspects of physics. Common topics taught in high school or secondary school settings include mechanics, kinetics, electricity, and magnetism. Often, such classes are taught without any basis in calculus because most high school students do not begin to learn calculus until their junior or senior year, if at all. Some advanced physics classes, however, may delve into the basic calculus behind some of the concepts addressed in physics.

Sometimes, a physics teacher will teach topics that are beyond the scope of a basic physics education. Generally, he does so to inspire a higher level of student interest. Such topics that are not often taught in-depth but that are sometimes addressed include quantum mechanics, relativity, and other topics related to theoretical physics.

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