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What is a Chemistry Teacher?

By Phil Shepley
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A chemistry teacher is a type of science teacher that specializes in the scientific discipline of chemistry. The teacher is responsible for teaching many aspects of chemistry, which mainly involve the various chemical properties of substances, as well as the processes that they undergo under a wide variety of circumstances. The chemistry teacher will discuss the many uses of chemicals, their dangerous properties, how to properly use and dispose of them, and other related topics.

The term chemistry teacher generally refers to those who teach at the middle and high school levels, since in college they are referred to as professors or lecturers. Elementary teachers typically teach more general types of science that include basic chemistry experiments, but will usually not teach chemistry as a topic for the entire year. Elementary-aged students are often not taught true chemistry because experiments can involve high heat or toxic chemicals, which involve a high degree of safety when executed.

Chemistry teachers must incorporate lab experiments as central to their curriculum. These experiments should relate directly to the current lecture topics, and also should be tested ahead of time, especially during the first few times they are taught. Testing will help the teacher verify the difficulty and safety levels, as well as the relevance of that experiment. While most experiments have already been well-tested and utilized in the classroom, a teacher may always choose to try something unique, or an experiment that relates somehow to current news and events.

A chemistry teacher must make the lesson plans for the year that will be relevant to the necessary curriculum. He is also responsible for designing, executing, and supervising laboratory experiments that are relevant to the lessons. In addition, general teacher responsibilities of a chemistry teacher involve evaluating students, communicating with their parents, and maintaining classroom records. They must also stay up-to-date on current events and teaching trends among other chemistry teachers worldwide, while staying involved with their peers by attending school events.

The basic requirements to be a high school chemistry teacher are typically a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a high school teaching certification. The teaching certificate is usually obtained while the prospective teacher completes the required student-teaching period that is required for the bachelor's degree. These requirements this can vary from state to state, as well as from school to school. Generally, public schools have stricter requirements, especially regarding teacher certification or licensing, than private schools, but this is not always the case.

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Discussion Comments
By nony — On Feb 18, 2012

@hamje32 - Sorry, I beg to differ. While I do agree that alternative routes to certification exist, I don’t believe that anyone should be a chemistry teacher, even if they have the subject matter expertise.

I’ve heard horror stories from students who took classes from teachers who knew their subjects, but couldn’t teach. In my opinion you’re not accomplishing anything if you can’t get the stuff across. I think at least a year of teacher training is in order before you step into the classroom.

By hamje32 — On Feb 17, 2012

@miriam98 - I think that there is some flexibility for middle school science teachers. Some districts allow you to work on provisional certification while you start teaching their classes.

I don’t know how much training you need. It all depends on demand. If there are a few teachers to teach math, for example, they may hire people with math degrees but who don’t yet have formal educational credentials.

There are alternative routes to certification available depending on the subject matter and how badly they need to fill the position.

By miriam98 — On Feb 16, 2012

There’s a chemistry teacher in my house. It’s my wife. Actually she’s not a formal teacher as such but she graduated with a degree in biochemistry, and she has used her knowledge to tutor a lot of students.

I think that people who have the degree should be allowed to teach in the public high school even if they don’t have the formal certification. After all teaching these difficult subjects is very much in demand, and most teaching professionals don’t want to even mess with this stuff. I think that we should be more flexible, at least for things like general chemistry.

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