The math test went well. I was pleased with the amount of studying I did. I’m not sure how they will score the three constructed response questions that are worth 33%. I worry that I should have been more wordy in my answers. But I knew how do all of them, with the exception of one part of one question. This has not been the case in the practice sessions.

I finished all of the 40 multiple choice questions. If a question was confusing to me, I skipped it to go back later and do it. I was not sure I would finish every question and I wanted to do the easier ones I had more chances of getting right first. When I got to the end, there were only eight that I didn’t do the first time around. Of those eight, seven I fiddled with and came up with an answer that seemed like a good guess. The remaining one, I had no idea and I went with “C”.

I thought I developed a particularly good time management strategy. I spent 5 minutes reading over the test at the beginning. That calmed my fears a lot as everything looked familiar. Then I spent 10 minutes on the first constructed response and 15 minutes on multiple choice. I alternated those until I had finished the constructed response. When there were 30 minutes remaining, I took a look at where I was and strategized. I think this back and forth effort helped me not only finish everything, but also not worry that I was going to run out of time before I had even attempted large sections of the test.

The other thing that was nice was that almost every time when I came up with an answer it was one of the choices on the multiple choice. When I was studying I would often puzzle my way through a problem only to find that my answer wasn’t there. It was a bit defeating. This time, even if I figured wrong, I was at least validated by the answer being present.

So overall, I think I did well. I’m not sure it is enough to pass, but even if it isn’t I have now taken the test and know what to expect if I take it again next time.

I came home, and alternately napped and read Dennis Lehane’s new book which is very, very good.

Math teacher report 3/13

I’m warning you right now, this will be a “didn’t really do it” sort of post. I’m really tired and my mental energy is going toward the test on Saturday and my final project for my class. Both of those are things that are essential for me becoming a math teacher, so it isn’t like I’m not doing anything.

Finish that message thing
Not done yet. I think I need to find three or so teachers to give me advice and then send them some version to see what they like best.

Look at three potential volunteer tutor jobs
I didn’t even remember that I made this goal.

Contact five people about informational interviewing

Write two blog posts.
I wrote one. I have another one burbling in my brain. I have some ideas for a series.

I’ll revisit the math teacher goals during/after spring break. The start of the quarter is a good time for me to integrate new things in my life.

Weekly report: becoming a math teacher

Here is my 2/26/09 weekly report of how I’m doing with my job search.

message crafted?

I made some notes about what I wanted in my message. They are the following.

  • teach math/explore math/learn math. This is for what I want to teach. “Teach math” is the most succinct, but I’m wondering if it would be better to say something like “I want to help students learn/understand math…” Explore? Maybe not. It might be a little too touchy-feely.
  • struggling mathematicians. This is what I was/am and who I want specifically to work with students who have trouble making math connections. I believe that my past history with math will help me find more ways to help students understand concepts.
  • organization/goal setting. Something I rock at is organization, anyone who has worked with me will tell you that. I believe that being organized isn’t something you are born with, but something you learn. All my students will master steps to become organized learners. I would like to incorporate goal setting into my curriculum. By setting and monitoring weekly and monthly goals, students will not only have a greater understanding of what reasonable goals are and the steps to meet them, they will also use their goals to master math concepts.
  • different ways to solve problems
  • cross curriculum
  • students will learn: math, organization, goal setting.

…Picking up on 3/7. And I ran out of time and had to go to work. So I didn’t set goals for this last week. It was a busy week and not a lot happened in the realm of future math teacher Patricia. So I will finish reporting what happened and then make new goals.

student teaching started?

This was much easier than I thought. I asked my boss if she would mind if I observed math class, and taught a unit or two. She thought that was a fine idea. Then I just had to ask the 4/5 teachers. I caught both of them in the kitchen on a short break. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: “For my math thing, I don’t technically have to student teach…”
Julie: “Yes”
Jo: “I get her.”
(They argue)
Me: “I haven’t even finished what I was going to say!”
So I am currently observing Julie’s Math class two days per week and will teach a unit sometime in the near future. So far I’ve observed I need to work on my mental math skills.

informational interviews begun?
Um, yeah, contacting 10 people was a bit much, especially given how much I don’t like to do informational interviews. I contacted no people and stewed about the issue and finally decided to order What Color is Your Parachute from the library. I did that and read the chapter on informational interviewing and now that I have done that, I guess I have to move in that direction. Sigh.

blog posts kicked up?
I did three blog posts that first week and have done none since.

Goals for 3/12:

  • finish that message thing
  • look at three potential volunteer tutor jobs
  • contact five people about informational interviewing
  • write two blog posts.

Striving for a future

Well, the economy is in the tank. If we aren’t in a Great Depression, capital letters, I think the populace of the US is currently depressed, small d. Every day there is more bad news. This is not good for a variety of reasons. Namely, that I want a teaching job and teachers tend to hold onto their jobs when times are tough, economically. Not to mention that in Oregon, our education funding is on its usual horrible slide downward due to a crappy tax system that no one in our state has the courage to overhaul. There is talk that thankfully, they might only have to cut a week from the end of school, instead of two weeks or more.

What’s a girl who is tired of being an Admin Assistant to do? Thus far, become gloomy like the rest of the country. However, I realized today that I need to start the job hunt now. So here goes.

New feature.

Weekly, I will post my progress of what I have been doing to become a middle school math teacher. I am thinking Thursday will be the day, as that is a day I tend to get some time to blog.

Here is what I am doing now:

  • I have given up on the idea of becoming a Social Studies teacher. It does not seem to be valued at the middle school level in the Portland Public School (PPS) District, being combined with Language Arts. Then, only Language Arts teachers seem to be hired. At the high school level? They are looking for coaches. Of athletics. Not me. I’ve done my mourning and moved on.
  • I have instead decided to focus on my love for middle school students and my healthy appreciation for math and become a math teacher. Not to mention that math teachers are in much more demand than social studies teachers.
  • I have enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Middle School Math at PSU. I am currently working on class 2 of 8. I will be done after Winter Session of 2011.
  • I have been putting in many hours studying for Praxis 0069 which I will take March 14. Passing this test will qualify me to teach math at the middle school level.
  • I have read a bit about some of the remaining middle schools in PPS and have identified a few that sound like great places to work.
  • I am currently reading books about teaching.
  • I have started yet another blog to keep track of my learning as a soon-to-be math teacher and to eventually market myself when I begin applying for jobs.

Well, that sounds like a good amount of things. I just listed them there to reassure myself that I am working towards this goal. Those things are sort of ongoing right now and part of the Patricia-as-student phase. Here is what I will do to start the job hunt which will lead to the Patricia-as-employed-educator phase.

  • Craft a message. In my last, endless job hunt, I learned from Vicki Lind** that everyone should have short statement that succinctly answers the question, “Oh, you are looking for work, what kind?” I think that last time mine was, “I’m looking for a position where I can use my organizational and communication skills to further the education of children and adults.” It came in handy and the job I have now pretty much fits that statement. So now I need one for the next job I’m looking for. I will have a few statements to play around with next week.
  • Start my “student teaching.” I work full-time right now, so actual student teaching isn’t possible, but luckily I work in a school. I’m going to see if I can take a little time to observe fourth and fifth grade math classes with my ultimate goal to teach a unit or two. This will give me some current teaching experience to put on my resume. First step: ask my boss if I can take some time to observe.
  • Start the informational interview process. Groan. I hate this. HATE IT. But I think where my teacher job hunt really failed the first time around was partly due to the lack of schmoozing on my part. So I will go and talk to current teachers (ideally current middle school math teachers) about their thoughts on teaching and the best ways to get a job. I will contact at least 10 people in the next week asking if they know any current teachers I could meet with.
  • Kick up the blog posts on the teacher blog. I am aiming for three a week. They don’t have to be long, they just have to be there. I would like for two of them to be “things to learn more about.” In my reading about middle schools, I’m coming across unfamiliar jargon. And I really need to master the jargon. I think my disdain for learning the jargon also didn’t help the last go-round. So for this week I will remember what my math blog name is, the password and post three posts.

Okay, so I have plan, I have goals and I’m on it. Do I still feel the process will be long, arduous and not fun? Yep. Do the goals help? Yep. Wish me luck.

**Vicki Lind rocks. If you live in Portland and are frustrated by the job search process, go see her. She manages the wallowing and the kick in the pants perfectly. She also has a book called Finding a Job Worth Having that I really liked. And, she has a job club that was everything I needed at the time.