In my classroom this week: Circles, Pretzels, and Supervisor Observations

Whew, this was a crazy hectic week. But that comes with the territory of being a teacher. It usually seems to be more hectic at the beginning of the week because you’re getting back into the swing of waking up early, accepting that weekends don’t last forever, and making sure everything is set for the day, among other things. By Friday you’re on the homestretch and everything just kind of goes fairly smoothly, and then the week is over.

But not this week. So that’s kind of a warning because this post is a little long; but there are pictures and anecdotes about students and lessons and all that jazz!!! And there are chocolate covered pretzels involved, so stick around!

The whole week seemed to start and end at high-stress levels. The weird thing is, I think I got home earlier than usual most days this week. I think I stayed until maybe 4:30 (9 hour day) most days when usually I’m at school anywhere from 10-12 hours. On Thursday, I actually got home around 4:30 and Tom asked if everything was okay because I was home so early. Even he knew that it was out of the ordinary for me to be home before 6.

But even though I was getting home earlier, making it seem like a more easygoing week, it was because the school day itself had been so incredibly stressful that I just had to get out ASAP. Between difficult humans at school and the everyday duties that come with being a teacher of 3 Math classes and a co-teacher of 2 Chemistry classes, I was physically and mentally ready for bed by 8. But, of course, there were still things to get done before finally throwing in the towel for the day.

I won’t get into details about who or what specifically has stressed me out for the sake of being professional. I mean, I don’t think a ton of people are reading my blog, but it only takes that one person from administration or hired computer ninja to read it and then everything blows up.

Anyways, my Algebra I class blew me away with their creativity while they worked on their Circles project that I made for them. It was nothing too involved but it required them to find three circular objects in their daily lives, measure the diameter and radius, and find each item’s circumference and area. They then were to put all of their information onto a poster, including a picture they took or drew of each object. And dangit, these kids are so creative! I mean, I know they are but, as their math teacher, I don’t get to see their artistic creativity as much in-person. I enjoyed it so much and so did they!

Circles projects

On Tuesday, my supervisor and I scheduled a time on Friday for her to observe me in my natural habitat – one of my math classes. I know that I’m a good teacher (not in a braggy, self-righteous way) for it being my first year, creating my own curriculum, and everything else that working with students with learning disabilities entails. However, it’s still nerve-racking knowing another adult is critiquing your every move. Of course I’m ready and willing to hear suggestions and/or criticism if it’ll make my teaching better for the students, because, at the end of the day, they are the priority. Are the students benefitting from me as their teacher? Are they learning? Are they being supported? Can they be successful and are they being encouraged in my classroom? All of those should be a resounding YES (duh)!

So Friday was crazy from the beginning. I had everything planned in my head as to how the day was going to go. I kept telling myself that as long as I made it to lunch I was golden. First class of the day, Chemistry, was okay because students took a quiz and then I helped them organize old work and find missing work to be graded. My Algebra I class was just beginning to review for the upcoming Circles unit test next week. The third class, Algebra II, was when my observation would take place, and then I was making chocolate covered pretzels with my Math in Everyday Life class.

The morning was like the huge hill of a rollercoaster (particularly the Superman, if you’ve ever ridden it or have seen it at Six Flags). Waking up and getting ready for work, running the day’s schedule through my head and assuring myself 100 times that it would be great was like waiting in line for the ride. I was excited and happy with my decision to be a teacher and knew my lesson was planned well, but I was still not sure how the ride would be.

The commute to work and the time before the first class was like getting into the rollercoaster car and strapping in. My heart started beating a bit faster and I had a slight knot in the pit of my stomach. The ride started ascending to the top of the first huge hill, putting all my effort into making it up the hill and not passing-, burning-, and/or freaking-the-heck-out.

I reached the top of the hill right before my observation. My hands became a little clammy. My heart was started pounding a bit harder. The butterflies in my stomach began fluttering even harder. I reached the apex and then my supervisor walked in, and so began the crazy-wild descent.

Roller coaster terrified nervous silly funny

And then, exhilaration as my students totally followed along. Of course, as usual, lessons have their hiccups, but it went better than expected. I have a sarcastic sense of humor and all of my students know this about me. Also, I have a tendency to have, like, a motor spasm or tic (or I’m just super clumsy), and the whiteboard eraser flew out of my hands at one point as I went to erase the board. It’s dangerous and a little embarrassing, but we all had a good laugh. They kept saying that the lesson (graphing systems of linear inequalities) was fun because A) they got to color their graphs with colored pencils, and B) it made sense to them what was happening with said colored parts of the graph.

Woot!!! And after that class ended, I had no time to relish in my successful observation because I had to bolt down to the kitchen in order to maximize the time my next class would have to make chocolate covered pretzels as a Valentine’s Day themed baking lesson. If you’re wondering about the math involved, students had to double the recipe, we had to measure the amounts of ingredients, and we also talked about the prices of the items before and after we bought them.

It was a lot of fun, but it was also a lot of messy. The actual dipping of the pretzels wasn’t bad (although one of my students ended up with chocolate all over his hands…and shirt?!) but the clean-up was a bitch and a half. All in all, though, the students loved it and they ended up with awesome treats to either keep for themselves, share with friends, or give to a special someone. I took a few pictures but obviously for privacy reasons won’t be posting the ones with students’ faces.

Chocolate covered pretzels math baking

The rest of the day was a blur – lunch meeting, walk with a co-worker during our free period so she could vent, study hall where I helped students and packaged up the chocolate covered pretzels, then last period was another Chemistry, so another quiz. At one point, during study hall, I realized I hadn’t checked my computer for about 3 hours, and I had 16 unread emails. Deep breath.

I debriefed with my supervisor at the end of the day and she had some questions about my lesson (mostly about real-life applications, which we’ll get into next week…they just needed to learn how to actually solve and graph first) but said that it was good overall. Phew.

After school, I hung out with my co-workers – it’s our weekly de-stress time from the mayhem that is teaching. And I honestly love my co-workers. We bond so well and it’s just so awesome to have people who understand your work struggles and frustrations and jokes and stories because they have a ton of their own. I had no idea, but we spent 3 hours bonding over our mutual dislike of something (again, no details for professional reasons)! When I was walking to the subway afterwards, I checked my phone and was flabberghasted at the fact that we spent that much time talking!!!

I also love that I now can contribute to “student stories”. Last year, when I was invited to these Friday hangouts, I was only able to contribute about maybe a couple students because I was only an aide to one of them. If you know any teachers or are one yourself, then you know a huge chunk of out-of-school discussions are about the kids. It’s so great to hear the students’ successes, to laugh about their silly tendencies, and it’s frustrating to hear their annoying habits or how difficult their lives are at home.

But such is the life of a teacher. I’m so glad I decided against becoming a physical therapist after 3 semesters of community college. I honestly love the community that school brings, and I’m so lucky that this is my first official school community and I’ve bonded so well with them. Although the weekdays are stressful, there are always great moments to look back on, frustrating moments to learn from, awesome stories to tell, and wonderful people to lend an ear to or lean on.

Happy weekend all!

In my classroom this week: “Can of worms”

Sometimes, it’s important to take a break from the academics for five or ten minutes and focus on outside stuff that students are dealing with, see others dealing with, or have genuine questions about (that’s the beauty of having the freedom to create your own curriculum!).

In my opinion, flexibility is a super important quality to have as a teacher. I wasn’t born with it, believe me; it took work, but I’m so glad I’ve gotten better at it! And I’m not talking, like, physical flexibility, like touching your nose to your knees or anything like that. I’m talking about flexibility in planning and time and such, if you didn’t pick up on that. Rigidity is necessary as a foundation (having a routine, knowing when it’s time to re-focus, etc), but can be the biggest enemy of the teacher.

Anyways, my students and I talk about a lot of stuff, math being number one, obviously. But I like weaving in real-life stuff, letting them discuss issues in the country or world around them, hearing their opinions, giving my own, and just allowing them to have a safe space to talk about school and non-school things.

However, because I am their teacher and not their friend or older sibling, I make sure to keep it on the “school-appropriate” side as well; I can’t make them feel too comfortable!

In the past, my classes have discussed race, religion, sports, politics, and things that have happened in their lives. When asked, I have also shared the story of how I met my husband, how he proposed, and what my college experience was like.

My Math in Everyday Life students tend to ask the most questions and get the most off-topic because they have the most need of discussing and being made aware of math and non-math concepts, phrases, and other everyday occurrences than my other students in Algebras I and II. They also make me more cognizant of the words I use and the tone in which I use them, which helps me to become a better teacher in the long-run.

This week, we were discussing budgeting, a part of our “money” unit. I asked my students (comprised of freshmen, a junior, and a senior) what kinds of expenses they might have to pay when they are out of school (including college, if they choose that route) and living on their own. They brought up the usual – apartment/house, bills (electricity, water, gas), food, and extra expenses (clothing, movies/theater, etc.).

One student then raised her hand and asked, “What about kids?” I reiterated that we were focusing on their personal expenses post-school and pre-children; it’s just them on their own with a job. “That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms,” I joked. They all chuckled but gave a kind of confused look.

“Have you ever heard that expression, ‘A whole ‘nother can of worms,’ before?” I asked. They all shook their heads.

I was wondering why we were talking about worms,” one said.

Oh boy. I explained that it just meant I didn’t want to bring in a whole other situation into the mix. They would have enough to worry about after school living on their own without bringing children into the mix. They nodded, but it was obvious that they didn’t get the connection between a can of worms and having a baby.

I mean, I’ll admit it is a very strange phrase, and I couldn’t find the origin or history behind why the heck ‘can of worms’ was chosen over pretty much anything else. I did, however, look up images of them for a possible featured image. They all made me a bit grossed out and queasy, so I decided to use that white board design from my student instead. But I digress.

Another great conversation happened on Wednesday; four or five times a year, we dedicate an entire school day to a different topic and organize workshops in-school or off-campus field trips surrounding each topic. Usually it’s something about social justice or history, but this week we focused on math (yeah!), specifically the powers of 10.

Towards the end of the day, we watched a 45-minute long video called The Blue Planet. During the movie, a student whom I have never taught or interacted with very much (other than the usual “Hi, how are you?” in the hallway) was in my group and openly asked questions about the concepts discussed in the movie. He mostly asked about certain weather phenomenon:

  • Can we see tsunamis from space? Answer: Not unless it’s super clear and the satellite camera is zoomed in closely. I also Googled images and there aren’t any real pictures, although that would be super cool!
  • Can we have earthquakes here in New York? Answer: Of course! Usually the earthquake starts elsewhere, but it has reached NYC – this actually happened a couple years ago!

And I was able to correctly answer them all! I honestly surprised myself in my ability to answer him, bringing my knowledge up from the depths of dusty high school cobwebs and past/current events. I Googled stuff after I answered, to make sure I wasn’t misleading him and the other students in the room. And, by golly (another strange phrase), I was right!

It’s funny and a little scary when the kids think I’m a genius. Another co-worker explained to his math class why we get tired after we eat – a lot of our blood goes to our stomach and our energy goes toward digesting the food we just ate. The students were blown away at this new knowledge and how much it made sense; they told him he was so smart and that he knows everything. He assured them that he didn’t know everything but they weren’t convinced.

I’ve had the same reaction and, though it feels good to feel smart, I am by no means a genius! I wonder if this is what my mom felt like when I was growing up and was amazed at the amount of stuff she knew and could explain to me. I was always in awe of the stuff my mom told me, and the fact that she could do the majority of the crosswords in the newspaper without consulting her crossword dictionary was incredible.

Most of all, I love the times when my students blow me away with their knowledge or ability to think and reason critically. When they make connections from what they have learned to new material, or when they are able to express their thoughts and opinions in a clear and concise manner (especially when it’s difficult for them to do so in math), those are the best moments.

Granted, it doesn’t happen all the time or even every day. Some days I wonder if they’ve remembered anything I’ve taught them. But it’s on the days when they make those connections to new concepts, have their “oh my gosh, that makes sense!‘ moments, or ask those questions that make me think about how and what I have learned in the past (can of worms, anyone?) that make it all worthwhile.

Ultimately, I hope I’m doing a good job in helping my students become well-rounded, knowledgeable citizens so that, when they leave my classroom, they will be capable of managing the world around them, of asking questions and finding answers, and contributing to the betterment of our world.

End the cheesiness already!

My first semester as a full-time high school teacher

What a whirlwind couple months!

If you had asked me five years ago (during my first semester at SUNY Geneseo) where I thought I would be in five years, there is absolutely no way I would have had any inkling it would be where I am. My roommate Becky and I were too busy annoying the obnoxious girl next door, making our room into “A Little Girl’s Mind” for my art class, and getting used to living together.

I would never have imagined living in New York City with a teaching job that I enjoy as much as I do. I wouldn’t have said I would be married to an amazing guy like Tom, or that I would’ve received my Master’s degree (let alone from Columbia U).

It’s so cliche, but I don’t care. I have been blessed beyond my wildest (within reason) dreams or (realistic) expectations. I mean, I can think of crazier things to include in my wildest dreams, but I am much more of a realist (like Iggy Azalea, duh).

But anyways, I love my coworkers, I love my students, and I love waking up and going to my job. Sure, Mondays are usually difficult, and 6:15 comes way too quickly most mornings, but I have never had a job that I was actually happy and excited to go to every day. Until now. [Disclaimer: I also love my friends, family, and my husband and our future puppies and kitties and children and so on, but that didn’t fit so much seeing as this post is mostly about my job.]

From my first job as a newspaper deliverer at 12 years old (that lasted a couple months), to serving at Dunkin Donuts (for a year during college), cashiering and supervising at Walmart (4 different times over the course of 4 years because of college), and my two long-term substitute jobs (7 weeks and 10 weeks), nothing has been as satisfying as my full-time, first-year teaching job.

And I know how rare and wonderful that is. I’ve heard so many teachers complain about their first year(s) being hell and beyond stressful. Yes, of course I’ve been stressed and sleep-deprived and run ragged some days/weeks, working 12+ hour days, taking work home, and learning how to work with each student and each coworker individually.

BUT. Overall, I am completely content at this point in time and feel like I’ve been successful for my first semester of teaching. I’m actually contributing to the lives of young people, and I’m hoping they take at least one positive thing away from my time with them, whether it’s math-related, life-related, a sense of humor, or higher self-worth (or, bonus, all of the above).

Holliday is the Best

And not only that, but they’re contributing to my life as well – they make me laugh, but they also challenge me and make me think and re-think my ways, both in and out of school. They make me a better person…just don’t tell them that, or they’ll get big heads.

It wasn’t always this way, especially in the beginning of this school year.

I worked at my current school last year as a student’s personal aide, so I already knew all of the staff and most of the students (except, of course, the incoming freshmen this year). In that sense, it was a little easier getting more acquainted with my coworkers because I had already interacted with them and gotten to know them last year. They invited me out to happy hours on Fridays even though I wasn’t technically part of the faculty.

And we still go to happy hours every week – sometimes, we don’t all go because we all have our rougher-than-usual weeks where we would rather just go home and crash at 6 pm, but that’s completely understandable. But I love that our faculty is such a close-knit community. Even within our school system, the elementary and middle school faculty don’t seem as close as we at the high school do. Yay for community!

As easy as it’s been to incorporate myself into the faculty, it wasn’t as easy among the students. I think they still saw me as ‘that girl’s aide’ and couldn’t see past that to see me as a competent and college-educated math teacher. But I think we’ve gotten past that because the amount of trust and respect I’ve gained since September is significantly higher. I mean, check out the amount of chocolate and cookies I got from them yesterday!

Teacher haul

The last two weeks were especially stressful with meetings, covering fellow teachers’ classes, and scrambling before the upcoming break. And now we’re off for 2 whole weeks for winter break. Ah, the perks of being a teacher.

Wedding Update: 2 months left!

Okay, can time just speed up now?? It’s so cliche but where has the time gone?! We’ve been engaged for almost 10 months already?!

But at the same time, it feels like it was forever ago. Does that make sense? Probs nobs.

Does anyone else say that? I said that to Tom last night and he was like, “Who says that? And what does that even mean?”

I say it, and it means probably not. Only it’s more e-fish. Get it? Like, efficient? Anyone? No? Alright, let’s move on.

So the past week and a half was crazy insane.

Like seriously. This post includes not only wedding updates, but also life updates because, well, it’s my blog and I do what I want. Are you ready?

Last weekend, I wrote about my progress with invitations. I’m glad to say that I’m 99% done (there are a few stragglers that Tom needs to find addresses for) and have sent out any and all invitations that I could! I put the majority of them in the mail on Sunday the 8th (the day after I wrote my 10 week update post on our wedding website) and have already gotten a bunch of response cards back!

Instagram - invitations

I’m using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of responses as they come. I made a column of all the people we invited, and then made columns for the downstate and upstate festivities, under which I will write the names of people in relation to how they responded. So I’m keeping track of who has responded, how they responded to each event, and also how many are coming. Exciting stuff! Yeah!

The next day, Monday, I accepted a teaching job for next school year! I’ll be the newest addition to the math and science crew at Mary McDowell Friends Upper School here in Brooklyn and I couldn’t be more excited! I worked there this past year as a paraprofessional, employed by a family whose student attends the school. I’m ecstatic that I get to work with (almost) everyone again this year, only as a teacher this time! I’m sad to see people go, but wish them all the best in their amazing future endeavors (one guy is going to Malaysia to teach math!) and know they’ll kick butt wherever they are.

Tuesday was a ‘no school’ day so I spent the day cleaning and relaxing. Wednesday was the last official day of school for my student, and it was a half day, so I got to chill a bit that day too. I went and got a spray tan so that I wouldn’t blend in with my ivory colored bridal shower dress. Although they were two different dresses, both of my shower dresses were similarly pale and would not mesh well with my pastiness.

Shower Dresses

Thursday I got my hair colored and blown out. I’m telling you, I would love it if those girls would wash my hair and massage my scalp like that every other day. It feels amazing! And the stylist was able to get my hair straight and swishy! Please come home with me!

Friday was flight day, so I spent the morning packing and getting ready to fly upstate for the weekend. I hadn’t heard anything bad in weather reports, so I left for the airport around 2 so that I would arrive about 75 minutes before my scheduled flight time. Everything was going smoothly – the subway was on time and connection times weren’t long, and I got to the AirTrain in great time.

And that’s when Delta emailed me saying that my flight was delayed an hour. I texted my friend in Boston, Michelle, since we were originally flying in to Buffalo around the same time, and I also texted my friend in Buffalo, Courtney, to let her know since she was picking us up. Michelle said her flight was cancelled and wouldn’t be getting out until the next morning. We discussed what it could be due to – both of us were looking at fairly clear skies!

I got to JFK and my flight was still only delayed an hour which was good. I got my bag checked and, wouldn’t you know it, when I walk out of security and check the departures board, my flight was cancelled. Delta kindly sent me an email letting me know that everything was good and they rebooked me for a 4pm flight the following afternoon.

Oh hell no Felicia Day

Little did they know, that would not work seeing as my bridal shower was at 1pm the following afternoon. So I stood in line for over an hour and the agent was able to rebook me for the 8am flight the following morning. She was really kind and wished me congratulations and good luck on my bridal shower.

Back home I went, this time only with my small carry-on, which was convenient but also meant that all of my beauty products were somewhere in the airport instead of at my fingertips. This meant that I would look like a bag lady until I got said products and the use of someone’s bathroom mirror and outlets upstate. And I was worried that something would happen that would cause my luggage to be lost, and then I’d look like a bag lady all weekend. Nonetheless, back on the AirTrain and subway I went, annoyed but sure everything would work out fine.

Except it was lashing rain when I got out of the subway. Thunder, lightning, the whole shebang. Luckily, in said carry-on, I had my umbrella. Okay, I guess it was a good thing we didn’t try to fly.

The next morning, when I went to leave at 4:30am to go through the whole process again, my sneakers were still wet; not pleasant. Everything went fine and before I knew it, I was landing in Buffalo…where it was about 20 degrees colder than I had packed for. My checked bag made it there fine and, wouldn’t you know, Michelle’s flight was only about half an hour ahead of mine! So it all worked out perfectly!

We got to Batavia in record time, enjoying some TimBits and caffeine on the way, and I was (finally!) able to beautify myself. The entire day was party day – bridal shower, lingerie shopping (oh la la!), and bachelorette party. It was so great seeing all of my friends and family! I want to thank all the ladies who planned and attended my bridal shower this past weekend – it was a fabulous time and I can’t begin to tell you how special I felt. I’ll be writing a post about it soon so stay tuned!

Bridal party

Sunday was relax by the pool day with my friend Jenna whose family generously opened their home to me all weekend. I’m so glad we got a nice sunny day to enjoy! Monday was spent visiting my mom and Godmother before I had to take off once again. My friend Becky drove me to the airport and we got to talk like we used to in college, just shooting the breeze…figuratively and literally since the AC doesn’t work in her car and it was like 84 that day, so the windows were all down! My car was the same exact way a few years ago so it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

My flight home was very smooth and it was so nice to get home and finally not live out of a suitcase! And, of course, see and hug and talk to Tom! I am so grateful that I was able to see and spend time with so many wonderful people this weekend. I miss that so much and I know that it will probably only get harder as everyone gets married and starts having kids and whatnot, but I want to make a point to get together at least once or twice a year because those relationships are so important!

I got to teach today…

I got to teach today. And it felt so good.

I haven’t gotten to “properly” teach in over a year and a half now. Since my last long-term substitute gig, I’ve been a teacher’s assistant and have covered and helped out in a few classes at my current school. But I haven’t gotten the chance to truly teach (make my own lesson, deliver it, evaluate my teaching, etc) my own class for awhile now.

At the moment I’m a paraprofessional for a high school student with Cerebral Palsy. I’m in a school all day, everyday. And I’m certified to teach middle and/or high school math in New York State. And I’ve been getting antsy since finishing grad school.

I’ve been applying to teaching jobs for the coming up school year. So far I’ve had 2 interviews at two different private schools in Brooklyn, and both asked me back to do a demo lesson.

So today was one of those demos, and it went really well!

I chose to teach a trig lesson about the basics of the unit circle that included using trig functions like sine and cosine. I can hear your anxious groans and sighs from high school memories of this stuff.

But it went great! Some of the students in the room had not taken trigonometry yet, and others only knew the basics like SOH CAH TOA (which I went more in depth about the meaning of). There were students that were eager to participate, and others that would not have said a word had I not called on them.

One student, while I asked everyone to discuss something with their partner, actually called me over and told me he was very lost. I asked where he got stuck, and he showed me. I re-explained the work we had just done (he got that), re-explained what I was asking them all to do (he got that), and re-asked where he got lost.

I love when that happens! Not only was I really proud of him for admitting he was lost and asking for help, but he also made me think deeply about what I was asking and how to ask it differently in a way that was more clear. He ended up getting it, only taking an extra 30 seconds or so, without me spoon-feeding the answer to him!

The lesson was only 30 minutes long so it definitely flew by. I over-planned, causing me to only get through half of my lesson, but we stopped at a good spot that completed one idea. By the end, everyone understood what we had done and the only questions I received were about my name (whether ‘Chatt’ was English) and about teaching (whether it’s difficult to get a teaching job, especially at certain parts of the year).

I was told my name was awesome (I told them my whole name) and was thanked multiple times by the students. I think I’ll find out any hiring decisions within the next few days at that school so that the math teachers who sat in on my lesson can talk it over and also report to the headmaster.

My next demo lesson (at my current school!) is coming up on Thursday and I can’t wait – it’ll be about area and perimeter, and I’ll throw variables and “real-world” problems into the mix, not just numbers.

I forgot how wonderful I feel when I teach and get to interact with students. Even though I’m the teacher, I come out of each lesson having learned something.

I learn that I sometimes talk too fast.

I learn who needs a bit more time to answer a question.

I learn math in a deeper way so that I can teach it in a deeper way.

It’s a really great feeling and it reminds me that I chose the right profession for me.

Fingers crossed that I get offered one (or both!) of the jobs so that I can continue to grow and learn as an educator and mentor.

Be Positive? Challenge Accepted.

I’ve decided to make a promise to myself and the people around me. I want to be a more positive person. Now, hear me out because this is part enlightening commitment, part self-doubt-inflicted rant.

Thumbs Up

Get ready for a mathematical representation of my dilemma:

Picture a number line; you have zero in the middle, negative numbers to the left, and positive numbers to the right. Well, boys and girls, adding negative to anything positive brings you closer to zero. You will eventually get to zero (no, zero is not asymptotic in this analogy) and you only become more negative from there. At this point, I feel as though I’ve passed zero (and no, you don’t collect $200 when this happens) and am continuing down the line.Right or Left?

My problem (at the moment) stems from the fact that I’m really unsure of what I want to do in life after graduate school. I realize that I am only 23 so I don’t need to have my life planned out to a T. I mean, I wake up and have no idea what I want to wear most mornings, and it usually works out just fine. But, come on, this is my life we’re talking about. Meaning, like, until I die. It’s not a debate between an everyday T-shirt and a cute summer-y top.

While browsing jobs online, I find ones that sound intriguing. And, hey, look at that! I even meet the basic qualifications! But then I start asking myself questions that a potential employer might ask. “What sets you apart from other candidates?” “What one word best describes what you have to offer our company?” “Why do you think you would be better qualified for this position?”

Essentially, I start asking myself, “What makes you think you’re so special that you would be able to perform this job better than anyone else?

And it’s not in a polite tone, either. Go ahead, reread that previous statement in the meanest, most patronizing way. Got it? Yeah, I can get pretty rude to myself sometimes.

So, naturally, since I try to stay away from rude and condescending people, I decide to walk away from this uncomfortable situation.What's wrong with me?

Well, there goes another job opportunity that I didn’t even press the “Apply Now!” button for.

Now reflecting on these repetitive situations, there is a common denominator.

No, it’s not the type of job I applied (or almost applied) for.

Yes, on paper I meet the basic requirements for education.

And no, I didn’t miss the application deadline.

The common denominator, the greatest obstacle, the one thing that keeps me from searching and applying for jobs is ME. That scoundrel Holliday (that’s me Holliday. I’m referring to myself when I say Holliday) makes me feel like complete poo every single time I open my internet browser and start searching for potential jobs.

I usually start my searches with an open mind, freshly pumped up after a pep-talk (usually not from myself) about how smart and great I am. I look for jobs in math – both teaching and non-teaching – and might find a few that seem interesting at first. There are even some that I click just because I don’t know what the heck they entail. I might narrow it down to a couple that I would actually be interested in applying for, so I get my resume and cover letter ready to upload.

I'm ready!

And then I reread the qualifications:

Two years experience a must? How am I supposed to get said experience if everyone requires said experience?

Must be a good communicator? Shoot, my mom tells me I mumble a lot.

Leadership experience a plus? I mean, I was usually the first of my suite mates ready for dinner in college, and therefore the first of us in line.

Honors, awards, and certificates? I still have my diploma from kindergarten, does that count?

You know nothing.

Now, all joking aside, getting this far in life and being in graduate school for mathematics education should say something, right? But no matter how qualified I may be I always find faults in myself that start pushing me away from submitting my required documents and information.

No, I wasn’t the president, vice president, or even a back-up treasurer in any groups in high school or college. I worked from my senior year of high school through my four years of undergraduate, so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get super involved in clubs and intramural sports. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was nine, so I did a lot of growing up before I was a teenager. Does that count as leadership?!Going mental.

And see, that’s not something you put on a resume. And I wouldn’t say anything like that during an interview. So, aside from my resume, my application would seem to be very sparse. So then what’s the point of applying since they’ll probably have fifty applicants who are much more qualified?!

And that’s how it ends. I exit out of my browser tabs of potential jobs and go on Facebook or YouTube, stewing for the rest of the day/night. I dwell on my employment inadequacies until another week passes without any progress on figuring out what I would like to do with my life and my Masters degree I will earn in December. And I gotta tell you, it’s annoying, exhausting, and ridiculous.Exhausted.

I realize how ridiculous it is. If someone else were going through this problem, I would assure and reassure them of their positive attributes and remind them of their experience and all that jazz. I would be more than happy to pump up my friends if it means they’ll apply to a job they want. But do this for myself? Unheard of!

Thankfully I have friends and family who constantly boost me up. I hear more positive stuff from them and yet I’m more willing to listen to all of the negative garbage from myself. I am the outlier. And in statistics, we don’t consider the outliers to be helpful in finding trends or making relevant conclusions. Boom. Math application.

So here’s a pact to myself. I will only say positive things about myself for the next week. If some negative comment or putdown comes to my mind or lips about myself, I will write it down and try to figure out two positive reasons that it is wrong. I will do my best to follow these rules when applying to jobs as well because I am sick of talking myself out of potentially awesome opportunities.

Positive words

And my goal is not to become arrogant or conceited, but positive and uplifting. I think that if my positivity starts with myself it will be so much easier to be positive for others. If you’d like to join me in this challenge, please feel free! Here’s to positive thoughts. Cheers.

Making Math Fun: Experience MoMath

Pythagoras, polygons, and fractals – oh my! By the title, I’m sure most are rolling their eyes, and maybe even feeling anxious at the thought of math.front

There is such an unnecessary fear about math felt by many. Children and teens in school dealing with fractions and algebra, reading to simply lay down their pencils because, I mean come on, “Where am I ever going to use this in my daily life?” Adults with bad memories of their own school experience with math, although that might be due to the fact that teachers used to be able to hit them with rulers.

For us residents of New York City, we don’t have to look farther than the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). Located on 26th Street, MoMath is “North America’s only museum dedicated solely to math.” The museum, which opened back in December, only has 2 floors with maybe 20-30 stations (exhibits) so it is not so overwhelming, but it also covers an exponential number of bases (kind of a math joke…exponents…bases…ha?).tricycle

Although my trip to MoMath was a requirement for an assignment for my summer class, it has been on my list of places to go here in the city. Go ahead, call me a nerd. I am a proud math nerd. I am a mathematician, and you can be too! Sounds like an advertisement, huh?downstairs

As you can see from the photos, there were many age groups represented here – children and adults come to find out just how fun and useful mathematics is. And it’s fantastic! If you don’t believe me by now, check out the MoMath website to get a sense of what all is there, hours, and prices. Do it. I dare you.