Why Math?

After my entire college career of dodging math classes, I just discovered that to be certified to teach high school in PA, I need 6 credits of math and three more Praxis tests, one of which is math. I almost vomited.

I have 4 math credits thanks to a concurrent enrollment class I took in high school. I wanted to get all of my college math over with before even entering college. I thought my plan would work.

After deciding that I will work somewhere else for a few years (anything but waitressing and janitorial work--I'm afraid of waitressing and I've already done janitorial), I told Travis my plan and he just blinked at me. He couldn't understand why I would let one math class and a math test get in my way of teaching. He doesn't have a clue; he's usually right.

I used my birthday money to order a stupid study guide for the test ONLY BECAUSE I read "Real-Life Education" by Pres. Henry B. Eyring (Apr. 2009 New Era). Peace and confidence eliminated my fear (or disguised it--whichever it was, I'm grateful). For all students struggling to make it through, this article is a must-read. It was a direct answer to my prayer and I only wish I had read it years ago.

Well, maybe I'll be able to compute students' grades without a calculator after this ordeal. Or figure a tip at a restaurant. Is it normal to be clueless when it comes to logical, statistical thinking? If only I were Emily Martin with English and math aptitude.

P.S. Sister Morgan, I'll send you an autographed copy of Thoreau's Walden if you crop my face out of the picture at the top of this blog.


Julie M said...

I'll crop it for the Walden!!!!
For teaching in PA, you can still get a job without those praxis tests and the math classes. You can get emergency certified for one year only, and teach for that year until you get everything else worked out. You need to get your letters and resumes out there, though. School districts won't even look at your stuff online unless they see a state certification. So, just go to the school districts in person, hand them your letters and junk stating that you are working on these things but that you just completed your student teaching, yada yada yada, and you'll still have a chance for next year. At least, that's what I had to do last year. And then be willing to hold your breath all summer long. They may not contact you until two weeks before school starts when they realize they need another teacher. Be willing to wait and be willing to be persistent.
Is that prescriptive enough for everyone? Sorry, Jami, I just went through the exact same things as you last year, so I thought I'd try and help you out from what worked on this side of the state. Call me or email me if you need any help! I had to take the same praxis and everything, so call me! We can get together and study or whatever. I know Travis can help you with it too, but if he's too busy I'd love to help. YOU CAN DO THIS!

Emily Goodsell said...

Good luck, Jami. I'm glad Julie has gone before you and knows some of the secret ins.

Sky said...

Uh . . . I don't understand why the Ed Dept here didn't let you know all this stuff.
Plus, guess what? I finally found your flash drive yesterday (looked through all the beautiful pictures on it), but can't find the lid. I'll transfer it or send it as is, so send me your address one more time.
And, Julie, Thanks for helping her. I agree with EMPO.
I still can't believe the power point you sent. Where did you get those pictures? I watched it again last night and was in tears.
By the way, I wish all of you would send your good feelings toward the Center in letters to administration. They only look at number of students we serve in 20 minute sessions, not at how many WC assistants' lives are changed for the better, and since our numbers are down . . . . If you ever get time or the inclination, write them (Pres. Clark; Phil Packer, etc)
You'll be OK, Jami. I have faith the Lord knows what He's doing, and you are all so very faithful that He can't keep back blessings from you. We miss all of you

Jami said...

Thanks, Julie. I've been warned about them not letting me know until July or August (hoped it wasn't true, but oh well). I'll go to the districts in person. I wonder what I'd do if I ever had to be the first one to figure things out? I've been incredibly blessed with angels surrounding me.

Just one more question, Julie. Is it worth it? (I'm not even kidding. Should I tutor or work in an office or somewhere else?)

Sister Morgan, I don't think that the jump drive ever had the cap :)I found the pictures by blog-stalking and picture hounding. (Travis thinks it's unhealthy, but I just say I'm taking advantage of good opportunities.)I'd love to write a letter to ANY official ANYwhere to tell them of the WC.

Julie M said...

Hey Jami, I know you are going to great, no matter what you decide to do. You are so talented that you will succeed and make things work. But as for the question of is it worth it to teach, that's something you have to answer yourself.
It's been worth it for me in several ways. I've learned a lot about myself through this year. Some of which I don't know that I would have ever discovered had I not done this. I've met people that I will never forget and have had experiences with coworkers and students that I will always hold sacred. If anything, it is worth it because there is so much good you can bring in the world. As members of the gospel, we have such a capacity for spreading hope and happiness to those around us. I never realized it before, but we really really do. Now, you can do that in any job, but in teaching I think you have more opportunities to have a deeper impact on the lives around you. If nothing else, I hope that my students know that there is a person out there who loves them and cares about their well being.
Another, less meaningful, reason is that I really had no other viable options. I didn't want to work retail anymore--the pay is bad and the insurance is worse. I know I could never work as a secretary or assistant like that--I am too afraid of talking to people I don't know (especially insurance companies--bleh). So that left me with what my degree qualified me for. Believe me, I tried to wriggle out of it. You've seen my other post, my feelings about teaching and my major. I struggled against it for five years! I raged, I pleaded, I cried, but it turned out to be the right thing for me. I just needed to submit to what God wanted for me.
Is that your case? I have no idea. But it was worth it for me because I know that I am doing what God wants me to do.
Best of luck and call me if you need help! I'll be praying for you.

Sky said...

OK, the autographed copy of WALDEN is really tempting, Jami, but no dice. The expression on your face in the picture is priceless.
Julie's post is true. And you will be safe. The garments we wear are total protection. They are not just clothes but represent the Priesthood of God. How can you be more safe? Do initiatories next time at the temple and listen to the end promise.

Emily Goodsell said...


I hope you don't mind if I echo a few of Julie's thoughts and add my own. The night before I started teaching this year, I felt like there was no way I could do it. I already hated the school district and didn't want to go through with it. Brad gave me a blessing and told me that I just needed to be myself, and that was more than enough for my students. Throughout the school year, I've seen that blessing come true.

I've realized how few students understand who they are. So few can stand tall on their own, and sometimes, I think as teachers, we can be the people who help them to their feet to stand. I have had more missionary experiences at school than I've ever had before, and I've grown in ways I can't explain.

But do I want to teach forever? Nope. I think I'll teach next year, and then hopefully I'll get to retire. It's hard work. Grading papers every night and planning lessons for an entire school year is rough. I will tell you that because of the WC, a lot of my lessons were planned for me (Thanks Sis Morgan for putting forth the work so that I haven't had to). I've also gathered lots of ideas for teachers in my department who have been teaching longer than I have, and that's been extremely helpful.

Whatever you decide, as Julie and Sis. Morgan have already said, it'll be right for you. Good luck and let us know what you decide.

meghan & jason said...

It's so interesting to me that all of us who studied so hard and passionately to be teachers question it now. I asked the same thing: Is it worth it? I'm still not sure, but now that I know that is the path Heavenly Father wants me to take this year, I'm jumping into it with both feet. Julie said she knew it was worth it for her when she found out it was what God wanted for her. That's exactly what happened to me. I have been reading Lectures on Faith, and I scoured the chapter about making sure the path you're on is in line with Heavenly Father's will for you. Once I realized it was (getting a job really helped with that), I haven't thought twice about it. Hopefully I can say the same after the first week of first grade.

So, you'll find out if it's right for you. You have the potential to be an incredible teacher like Sister Morgan, I think, so I personally hope you get the chance to develop the talent. Good luck getting a position! The principals will fight over you once they meet you!

Sister Morgan, was it difficult for you when you first started teaching? Did you start out in high school, or have you always taught in a university?

Sky said...

I taught HS for three weeks, and I quickly ran back for a higher degree. I liked my subject material too much--more than I like people. And you have to love people to teach in HS. It takes a lot better person than I am to teach there. I have a passion for writing and literature that I wanted to share. It hasn't worked out that way, and it's been hard, because, first, above all else, I am a teacher. But...maybe in the millennium? All of you have singular talents. I've seen them, worked with them (and sometimes around them). You will do great good.

Jami said...

I needed these thoughts today.

I found out yesterday that I have a second interview for a high school English teaching position. The interview is today and it's with the superintendent and a few other people (no idea who). I've long since given up on this position (even though my heart was in it) because they said I would be notified THREE weeks ago. I'm in panic attack mode now, trying to formulate what to say and think of an answer to my least favorite question, "Why you?" and so, naturally, I checked the WC blog. Sigh of relief.

I've noticed that life rarely waits until we feel ready for something. It is exactly like Sister Morgan's writing metaphor of jumping into the icy pool of water--it doesn't warm up just by watching it.

So what choice do I have but to jump?

By the way, Sister Morgan, I'll always be grateful that you didn't stay as a high school teacher. I've never thought you didn't care about people (they just can't be shallow and cliche, and I don't blame you for that one).

Jami said...

Does that mean that you got a job?! A real teaching job?