Sunday, February 17, 2013

Visits #2, #3, #4

I've been insanely busy! OMG. This February break will go down in history as the most stressful break ever. At night, we were going out to meet up with old friends in Seattle, but because I was bussing to all these schools, I had to wake up at 6am every morning to get ready (and Geoff also woke up at 6am for moral support). But, I think it was well worth the effort, because I got to see a cross section of different schools and to talk to a bunch of math teachers in the area.

Besides the great school that I saw during visit #1 (which, by the way, now has an official MS opening posted on their website), I saw another great school during visit #2, in a location that is not within walking distance of downtown but is fairly central, within easy bussing or carpool distance. I took the bus there and it took me about 30 minutes. It's a small and pretty new school, maybe just about 300 kids from K to 12. They seem to have really wonderful administrators, and they even asked me to go back to do a demo lesson the next day. (This felt funny to me, of course, because I typically think that most of the hard work is in preparing for the lesson, not in delivering it. And it had been many years since I had been asked to do a demo lesson, so I was actually a bit nervous!) In the end, the demo went fine, I think, but it's too early in their interview process for me to know if they're really interested. (They actually hadn't posted the job yet, so I was the first candidate they were speaking to about the job, and that was only because I had emailed them out of the blue, requesting a visit.)

Visit #3 was to a large public school, and this one was pretty far, well north of the U District, if you are familiar with Seattle. The principal was very down to earth and kind, and she showed me around their math hallway (there was a lot of integrated technology -- smartboards, doc projectors, etc.) and told me that they have a few National Board Certified math teachers. I was pretty excited about the possibility of teaching at a good public school, but unfortunately they're not hiring at the moment. She said that if I am willing to, I could apply to the district and get an offer from the district (city) level, if I am willing to be dispatched anywhere in the district. She also alluded to the fact that they don't do cool, integrated teaching of mathematics like they do in all the other subjects, because math is high stakes and kids have to pass end-of-course state exams in order to graduate. That's a shame to hear, and it reminded me that I have to be very careful about public schools, in order to not end up somewhere that forces me to teach to the test.

Visit #4 was much more relaxed, because I visited a friend from PCMI on her home turf. She teaches at a coed Catholic school, in the boonies. It took me close to 2 hours to bus out there, and then on the way back, because I had missed the 1:10 bus, I had to wait 2 extra hours for the next bus to come. At least I got to check out the ponies at the street corner while I waited. (No joke.) But, her school was lovely! The campus was huge and beautiful, the technology was wired through the roof, and the kids seemed well-balanced with interesting personalities and "strong academics", as she said. It was a nice school to check out, because it helped me realize that no matter where I work, it's always going to be a tradeoff -- schools in the boonies will be equipped with great facilities, but the tradeoff is that I'll have to commute that far out from the city. Schools closer to the center will be less space-equipped, so when I evaluate them, I need to use a different set of criteria...

But, anyhow, this trip has been very productive! It has helped Geoff and I make the decision that we'll definitely go through with this cross-pond move, even if I may have to be flexible and to take whatever may come (including doing part-time gigs till I find a full-time job). So now, it's off to wedding planning and job searching all at once. Yikes.

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