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new job

Well, I'm starting a new part-time job... tutoring kids in math&science online. Well, actually it's almost more like teaching than tutoring since it's based on a virtual classroom with many kids at once; and I have to cover 55 minute lectures on particular topics. This is a nice way to get my feet wet into teaching, since I've never really done it before. Ideally it's easier to teach something if you're there in person, but this way I don't have to deal as much with disciplinary problems, or kids having to go to the bathroom, etc. Not nearly as high pressure. Anyway, I'm going through some training sessions now and observing other sessions... and then I'll go into a phase where they observe me while I'm teaching, and then after that I'll be on my own. Depending on how well I do, they'll start ramping up my hours and it could potentially start paying the bills (wow! that'll be a first in a long time). But for now I'm just counting on it being a cool new experience, and something to occupy my time.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
ex_thehat388
Apr. 4th, 2003 09:35 am (UTC)
Talk with me about your experience doing this. Currently I am working to establish a company with a friend of mine to write math software and teach online. Our niche is very high level math kids. We were both Olympiad students and won various national competitions and we want to build a following with those kids. Then we'll hire more teachers to help. We already have several of the top middle schoolers in the nation (California kids going to the national Mathcounts competition) and my friend wrote some books called The Art of Problem Solving series (www.mualphatheta.org).
spoonless
Apr. 4th, 2003 10:34 am (UTC)
That's awesome. I will be working with very low-level math, for kids who are a bit behind (probably a lot like the student you were tutoring a while ago) which is a valuable experience, but if I had the choice I'd probably rather teach high-level math.
Mathcounts, that brings back memories. I think we only got as far as state when I was there. What is Olympiad? Sounds vaguely familiar. I was in mu alpha theta briefly but our chapter was pretty boring, we never did much. My favorite test was the National Math Exam, is that still around?

The place where I'm training to tutor is brainfuse.com; they have a pretty good interface... a whiteboard where you can draw equations and diagrams on, public and private chats to each student, different colors, shapes, and some math symbols. The only thing I think it could have a lot more of is the math symbols--they'd be particularly necessary for the higher math. This one only has squared, cubed, square-root, stuff like that.
ex_thehat388
Apr. 4th, 2003 11:17 am (UTC)
The Olympiad I'm referring to is the system of tests leading up to the International Mathematical Olympiad where about 100 different countries send their top 6 high schoolers to compete. I have a little info on my website in the math section.

It used to start with the AHSME and the AIME, then the USAMO (USA math olympiad) and then a summer training camp. The problems get increasingly difficult until they are beyond most Phd-level mathematicians. These days the AHSME has been replaced by some other shit, but I don't know much about the new tests yet.

Also, for online math, learn to use TeX/LaTeX formatting if you haven't already.
spoonless
Apr. 4th, 2003 02:32 pm (UTC)
Oh... AHSME and AIME, ok yes that is what I meant by national math exam; for some reason our teachers always called it "national math exam" instead of by the real names. It's nice to hear them again, because I totally forgot what the acronyms were. I must say, though, I am *very* impressed that you got to the USAMO level. So did you make it to the USAMO or past it to the international competition? Either way, I have great respect for your success, because I know how hard the AIME was. I came from a large high school in Florida, but there were very few bright people there so I was one of the only ones who went on to take it. But I think I only got a 4 IIRC. I had the top score at our school on the AHSME in both 11th and 12th grade, and I think I was in the top 5 or so in 10th grade... but one of the years I got top, nobody went on to take the AIME so that's not saying much.
ex_thehat388
Apr. 4th, 2003 03:07 pm (UTC)
Re:
I took the USAMO 4 times and was honorable mention 3 times. My senior year I was a part of a question from being a winner and on the IMO team.

I have always believed I should have made the team (top 6) at least once. I went to the MOP training program after fresh and soph years and was invited the next year and declined.

The AIME was my bitch. I think I'm still the only freshman to score a 15 on it, though I never quite duplicated that score.

That's exactly the type of material we plan to teach. We are also very involved in Mu Alpha Theta though less so recently because of some brutal politics at the national office.

By the way, I knew a lot of Florida Mu Alpha Theta kids from the national convention (that I attended 6 times as a student and twice since). Which school did you go to? I knew a lot of Berkley Preppies, Stoneman Douglassites, and various others from those summer conventions.
spoonless
Apr. 4th, 2003 04:35 pm (UTC)
I am just completely floored... I guess you don't need to hear this, but you're a freakin' badass!

Holy shit.

Are the schools you mentioned there all private schools? Maybe that is the difference, I went to a public school (Manatee High School) and the people there by comparison were retards. We had the #1 football team in the state almost every year I was there, but we were never much for academics. I'm pretty sure nobody from our school has ever gotten to the USAMO. As a rule, they only let 11th and 12th graders take the AHSME, and a few select 10th graders like me got to take it. We had over 2000 students at our school, so I figured I wasn't doing too bad to come close once and win twice... the year that I went onto the AIME, there were four other guys who happened to qualify also. I think two or three of them got a 0, and the next highest to mine was a 2. The other years we didn't even have anyone qualify for the AIME. Anyway, that was my sheltered world back around '94. :)
ex_thehat388
Apr. 4th, 2003 05:26 pm (UTC)
Re:
I went to a public school as well though I would wager that at the time it was the best public high school math program in the states surrounding Alabama (and maybe the country for a brief period). Some of the Florida schools were private (Berkeley Prep) but some were public (Stoneman Douglass -- I think public?).

We typically had two or three people take the USAMO per year while I was there though that number tailed off to zero or one each year in recent years.

When we get our software and school together I'll let you know. I am sure that you'll enjoy a lot of the material we plan to go through -- stuff that you'd have never learned in high school and is likely a little off-track to most college math as well. Not that it's all that hard (easier than much college math) -- just a different flavor of problem solving. We want to breed a new caliber of Olympiad student.
spoonless
Apr. 5th, 2003 10:11 pm (UTC)

I went to a public school as well though I would wager that at the time it was the best public high school math program in the states surrounding Alabama (and maybe the country for a brief period). Some of the Florida schools were private (Berkeley Prep) but some were public (Stoneman Douglass -- I think public?).

So did they specifically train you for the test, or did they just teach math (and more importantly, how to reason) very well?
For us, they pretty much just told us "oh, by the way there's this really hard test next week. You get extra credit if you want to go take it. Good luck!"


When we get our software and school together I'll let you know. I am sure that you'll enjoy a lot of the material we plan to go through -- stuff that you'd have never learned in high school and is likely a little off-track to most college math as well. Not that it's all that hard (easier than much college math) -- just a different flavor of problem solving. We want to breed a new caliber of Olympiad student.

Sounds very cool. It's been a long time since I've tried to solve the type of problems I remember seeing on those tests.
ex_thehat388
Apr. 6th, 2003 08:23 am (UTC)
Re:
The top math classes were essentially all math teamers. Then there was a math team class and another math team class before school (basically 2.5 periods per day including the 7:20 class).

The teachers could thus teach way more than the curriculum and had us take all the math contests -- I took about 6-8 math leagues per year, 12ish weekend math tournaments, and then all the AHSME/AIME stuff. We would also go to the Mu Alpha Theta national convention where we became loathed for winning every year (7 years in a row at one point). It was somewhat intense but produced a dozen very good to excellent math students each year for a while (the program has since dimished as good teachers retired).

The goal of our software is going to be to replicate that experience for any student anywhere who puts in the effort.
fermina
Apr. 9th, 2003 04:18 pm (UTC)
Hey, if you don't mind my asking - how much are you getting paid to do this? I need extra cash and this would be a good way to get it.
spoonless
Apr. 10th, 2003 09:05 am (UTC)
It pays $10/hour. You just need a fast internet connection, some patience for dealing with kids who are behind, and a good knowledge of subjects from high school (they have everything from lit to chem to bio, but some of them don't have a very high need for tutors. I think math is the best bet.)

That site is brainfuse.com... there's another one called tutor.com that pays more... actually it lets you set your own rate, and they have a minimum of $20/hour. But it's harder to get started there and there's a lot of competition from other tutors with a lot of tutoring (and teaching) experience. I'm in the process of going through a background screening on tutor.com but we'll see how that turns out. From what I hear from other tutors on brainfuse, you can get scheduled up to about 25-30 hours a week if you work there for a while and build up a trust-base with the kids. (They start you out at only a few hours a week).

Anyway, good luck. So far it looks like a great way to earn extra cash... but I'll let you know how it goes when I get further along (just went through another training session today... have one more left).
fermina
Apr. 11th, 2003 12:49 pm (UTC)
Re:
Thanks for the info.
(Deleted comment)
spoonless
May. 4th, 2003 10:15 am (UTC)
Well, it went kind of strange for me. I submitted my resume attached to an email with just a brief paragraph describing my situation... that I was trying to find something teaching-related but didn't have much experience and would be starting grad school in another few months. They sent me a couple tests to take to measure proficiency in basic math and such... I filled them out and responded, but never heard back. Then later I tried applying again through the website. I went through the same thing, and again never heard back.

So then I decided to just call... and that was much more successful in getting their attention. They said "oh yeah, I remember you. Sure, let's set up a practice session in a few days and we'll see what you can do." I was shocked at how much easier that was than sending email--and after we did the practice session (where they just had me go through any math problem of my choice, using their whiteboard technology), they said "great, can you start immediately?" And that was pretty much it. So I don't really know what they're looking for. I didn't have any teaching experience, just a college degree (which I don't think is required).

So the morale of the story is... don't count on them getting back to you through email. Definitely call. I suppose this is good advice in general when seeking employment... persistance pays off :)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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