What Are the Qualities Needed to Become a Biology Teacher?
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Teaching the science of life and living organisms, biology teachers provide introductory to advanced training for future professionals such as doctors and medical professionals. Not everyone is suited to teach this challenging educational field. There are several qualities that you need to become a biology teacher.
Biology teachers should have a well-rounded education. Nearly every biology teacher is required to either have at least a bachelor's degree in biology or be provisionally hired if she will earn this degree within an agreed upon time. This degree includes a diverse group of science courses surrounding a central core of biology-specific classes.
Teaching college biology in a four-year university generally requires a Ph.D. or a master's degree while preparing for the doctorate degree. In addition to having completed a diverse science curriculum, you should also be skilled in mathematics and statistical methodology, as they apply to science research.
Research skills are an important quality of a biology teacher. You should be able not only to determine your data through laboratory field study, you should be able to explain what your data means to your students. For example, if you dissect an earthworm with your students, you should not only show and explain the parts of the digestive system but also what happens to soil as it passes through the earthworm.
Pedagogy and Professionalism
Pedagogy, or teaching skills, are very important in teaching biology. You will likely teach in a lab setting around such items as a dissected fetal pig or frog. Some students may become ill in this environment but must still be able to understand the topic. You must maintain professionalism in times like this. You will also be teaching somewhat controversial subject matter such as human sexual biology and evolution. While you will likely have required topics and data you need to teach, you should also practice restraint in separating fact from theory in controversial subjects, allowing for educationally appropriate examination from multiple perspectives. You should be able to maintain a well-ordered and disciplined classroom.
Maintaining a positive and enthusiastic attitude about your subject is an important quality of any teacher, but perhaps especially so in biology. You should be a lifelong learner, as the profession, both in subject matter and teaching methodology, changes rapidly. A successful teacher examines teaching methodologies and approaches in relation to student achievement and makes adjustments as needed.
As a biology teacher, you should be able to teach in a way that stresses learning biological concepts rather merely facts. You should also be able to promote team problem-solving, as biological research is commonly performed in teams of scientists. Good communication skills when working with students and parents are also critical in the profession.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Exploring Career Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- 2010-11 Edition: Teacher
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Biological Scientists
- College Board: Advanced Placement Program - AP Biology Teacher’s Guide
- Texas Association of Biology Teachers: Characteristics of an Outstanding Biology Teacher
- Science Buddies: Biology Teacher
- University of Louisville: What can I do with a Major in… Biology
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Teachers- Postsecondary
- Biology Junction: Earthworm Dissection
- Washington State University: Biology Teaching
- Purdue University: Biological Sciences; Undergraduate Degree Requirements
- Careerplanner.com: Job Duties and Tasks for: "Biological Science Teacher"
- Biology Reference: High School Biology Teacher
- EducationResume: Biology Teacher Resume
- National Science Teachers Association: About NSTA
- National Association of Biology Teachers