what is a secondary teacher?

You foster high school students' academic growth and general well-being as a secondary teacher. You work with students in Years 7 to 12. Your job is to support students' progress and prepare them for tertiary education. As a secondary teacher, you specialise in one or more subjects or work exclusively with a specific group of students. Your duties involve creating lesson plans, administering assignments and assessing student performance.

As a secondary teacher, you accompany students to excursions and camps or attend other school functions. You also encourage and counsel students on various aspects of their education or life. When you observe worrying changes in a student, you communicate with their parents and guardians to ensure they receive help.

Secondary school teachers usually rely on various teaching tools to complete the recommended curriculum, like whiteboards, textbooks, audio-visual aids and other equipment. For instance, if you teach art, you require art and craft supplies or photographic equipment.

Aside from teaching students, you perform a range of administrative tasks. For instance, you keep records of students attending your classes and track their performances. Secondary teachers also participate in professional development conferences and seminars to improve their skills.

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average salary of a high school teacher

The average remuneration of a high school teacher in New Zealand is $70,000 per year. The earnings vary depending on factors like experience and educational qualifications. For instance, trainee or entry-level high school teachers earn a median salary of $62,000 annually. Experienced secondary teachers take home over $70,500 yearly due to the expertise they bring to the role. Some employers include benefits and allowances in the remuneration package.

factors that affect the salary of a high school teacher

The significant determinants of your remuneration package are your experience and qualifications. When you have the basic tertiary education necessary to become a high school teacher, your earnings are likely lower than those of high school teachers with additional postgraduate training. Your remuneration package is entry-level when you are a trainee high school teacher with minimal experience. However, years of experience improve your salary prospects since they demonstrate your expertise.

Your location also influences your remuneration package. Working in a metro area or a large city will earn more than high school teachers in smaller towns. The high demand for high school teachers increases salary expectations in metro areas.

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types of high school teachers

The types of high school teachers depend on the subjects they teach, including:

  • high school science teachers: you teach the recommended curriculum on various sciences. Your job is to cover the required subjects, create lesson plans and assess students. Some science subjects involve laboratory work and outdoor projects.
  • high school maths teachers: as a mathematics teacher, you guide students through the numerical work and mathematical principles recommended by the curriculum. You use various learning techniques to boost their understanding of the subject. 
  • high school art teachers: as an art teacher, you train students in various art techniques and prepare them for Year 12 exams and tertiary career prospects. Sometimes, the role involves conducting competitions to boost learning outcomes. 

working as a high school teacher

Working as a high school teacher requires patience and empathy to deal with diverse students. Read on for details on the roles responsibilities, work environments and career prospects.

close up, smiling man
close up, smiling man

education and skills

To become a high school school teacher you need to have one of the following:

  • a specialist subject degree followed by a one-year Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary) or a Master of Teaching (Secondary)
  • a Bachelor of Education
  • a Bachelor of Teaching conjoint degree (a combination of teaching and specialist subjects).

Employers prefer you to train in at least two subject areas for your specialist subject degree so you can teach more than one subject. 

You also need to be registered with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and have a current practicing certificate. 

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities that help you excel as a secondary teacher include:

  • communication skills: you rely on your communication skills to teach students, explain various topics and provide feedback on their performance. Communication skills are also crucial when preparing student performance reports.
  • critical thinking: you model critical thinking skills to promote them in students' approach to their studies. You also require critical thinking skills to deal with issues and conflicts in class.
  • problem-solving skills: problems often arise in schools, including medical emergencies or behavioural challenges in classrooms. As a secondary teacher, you should resolve issues promptly and minimise their effects on learning outcomes. You rely on your problem-solving skills to fix problems.
  • empathy: you cater to students from diverse backgrounds and should be empathetic to provide emotional support. Empathy requires active listening skills to understand students' concerns and provide advice.
  • organisation skills: as a secondary teacher, you keep track of the class progress, including lesson plans and assessment reports. You can easily mix up the papers or reports if you teach the same subject to multiple classes. Organisation skills help you navigate your tasks and duties.

FAQs about working as a secondary teacher

Here are the most asked questions about working as a secondary teacher:

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