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Math Community College Teaching

  1. Dec 15, 2016 #1
    I am only a qualifier away from my Master's. (MA in math). I'm studying for it but not attending classes. I do have an OK job, but it's temporary/contract.

    I would have no trouble teaching at a community college (I even have reasons to prefer it!) but do you suppose they would consider hiring someone in my shoes?

    Relevant experience: I have not taught my own class. I have graded as a T.A., of course. I have done peer leading (see POGIL method for info), I have lead help sessions. I've given maybe half a dozen talks for seminars, conferences, and the math club. I was vice president and then president our local M.A.A. chapter. (I was pretty good at it too. I had speakers lined up every two weeks for an entire year, from various departments.)

    I also used to teach guitar, but it's been awhile. I probably wouldn't put that on a resume but I might mention it in an interview.

    My current resume is geared towards my technical sort of work, so I'd have to revamp it a bit.

    -Dave K
     
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  3. Dec 15, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Well, as they say there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that most of the CC's I am aware of have no problems with instructors with Masters degrees. The bad news is that they have a steady stream of high school teachers looking to supplement their income as instructors - that's your competition. The other bad news is that they strictly limit their full time staff. They'd rather have four people teach one class than one person teach four classes.
     
  4. Dec 15, 2016 #3
    Well, the worse news is that I haven't taken the qual yet, so assuming I pass in January (which most people do not do on their first attempt, though I plan on being special) the actual degree won't be conferred until May.

    You are correct about part time vs. full time. I haven't seen many full time postings, and I can't afford to work part time.

    There was an email sent and forwarded to my university awhile ago from somebody looking for teachers from there. I've responded informally to them so I'll see where that goes. I just don't want to go through the trouble of revamping my resume and sending things out if it's an instant 'no.'

    -Dave K
     
  5. Dec 15, 2016 #4
    The full time jobs are hard to come by. If you are interested in a full time job, some part time experience will help. But not too much, because it is basically charity, and they won't buy the cow if they get the milk for free.
     
  6. Dec 15, 2016 #5
    Points taken. I'm just keeping my options open.

    I would even consider part time if a) I pass the qual b) I still have this job. Might be fun.

    -Dave K
     
  7. Dec 15, 2016 #6

    symbolipoint

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    That description makes you qualified, the way I see things. Masters Degree, Mathematics? Teacher-Assisted? Taught something, anything, even if "guitar"?
    You already know you CAN teach Mathematics. You would be competing against PdD Mathematics holders also trying to get these C.C. teaching jobs, jobs which news reports have said are difficult to get and are often unstable. Still, your choice to try - and it would be good experience, for at least some pay.
     
  8. Dec 15, 2016 #7

    symbolipoint

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    Look at the possible advantage! If you DO get such part time teaching work, it will be official teaching experience in your chosen field of Mathematics and this gives you an important item to your job history and helps you develop further as a teacher.
     
  9. Dec 15, 2016 #8

    vela

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    You should probably call HR at the schools you're considering and explain your situation. They should be able tell you right away if you are eligible for the position you're interested in and what kind of hoops you might have to jump through since you don't officially have a master's degree yet.
     
  10. Dec 16, 2016 #9
    This isn't meant to be snarky, but keep this mind when applying for any position. If there's a stiff fee or you need remedial training, e.g., and you aren't sure what your chances are, then, yeah, it's wise to be cautious. But, if all that's required is revising your resume and submitting an application, just do it.

    Also, here's another option to consider. Depending on the area you're in, you can bring in a good chunk of change by tutoring. I know several people who rake in big bucks in NYC; lots of dumb kids there with rich parents.
     
  11. Dec 16, 2016 #10
    HR can be helpful with the official requirements, but I find that the full time faculty often have a much better idea what they are "really looking for." When I was that full time faculty member managing all the part-time faculty, HR was not interested in what we really wanted, they just passed the applications along to me.

    Most community colleges only have a few full time math faculty who teach several sections of the same lower level courses the bulk of their part-timers teach. Look them up. That's most likely the faculty member who can best inform you what they are "really looking for" in part time faculty. They can also tell you (likely more accurately) if they are willing to consider your application and start the interview process BEFORE your MA is complete. Odds are they cannot let you teach (for accreditation reasons) before your MA is complete and on file at the college.

    At most places, the full timers get comfortable teaching courses in their favorite niches, they get first dibbs when teaching assignments are made, and part timers clean up all the other sections. Due to low pay, there is a lot of turnover among the part time faculty, and you can often get your foot in the door by willing to teach a lower level class that no one else takes due to awkward scheduling (8:00 AM M, T, W, R, F or 8:00-10:00 PM T, R). It is also common for one of the part-timers to flake out, get sick, etc. half-way through the semester, so I'd stay in touch with the hiring manager through the term and let them know of your ongoing availability "should the need arise." These needs are filled quickly without doing a search through HR.
     
  12. Dec 16, 2016 #11
    I've contacted someone directly who emailed our university awhile ago. This email was sent to our graduate math adviser who forwarded it on to us, advising us to contact them directly if interested. Seems the best way in.

    The probability is that once my Master's is done I can get a job part time there, but I couldn't afford to have this as a sole source of income. I wouldn't mind doing an evening class or something for awhile or occasionally in addition to working. I could use the extra money and I think I would enjoy it.

    -Dave K
     
  13. Dec 16, 2016 #12

    vela

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    My post was in regard to the official requirements since the OP doesn't have his master's yet. There might be some way around that requirement, the details of which HR would probably know better than the faculty. It doesn't really matter if the faculty wants to hire an individual to teach if the college legally can't do so.
     
  14. Dec 16, 2016 #13
    Considering the number of PhDs now dropping their job standards to include community college, it's going to be harder(but possible, when I went my instructors had masters).

    It's kind of sad you have to beg to be able to teach disinterested and often academically poor students algebra after spending 6-7 years at a university. My time at CC was fine, I enjoyed the instructors but it's very clear everyone there has given up(employees I mean).
     
  15. Dec 16, 2016 #14

    Mark44

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    I didn't do this. I was looking for a teaching assignment at a local CC, teaching a programming class. I went to the college's website, and searched for names of staff people who were teaching the kinds of classes I was looking for. I contacted a couple of them by email, and one of them was good enough to forward my email to the person I needed to talk to.

    As it turned out, they needed someone with my qualifications, although they didn't have a programming class for me for this quarter (winter, starting 1/9). They will have classes for me later on, and, because of my mathematics background, they asked if I would be willing to teach a math class (3rd quarter calculus). As a favor to them, I have accepted, but my preference is to teach programming classes, preferable one or two classes a year.

    My situation was unlike Dave's, though, as my background includes 20+ years of teaching mathematics (and programming classes), plus 15 years as a "programming writer" at a large software firm in Redmond, WA. Without that experience I would probably have needed to go through HR first, but I don't think it's a bad idea to contact full-timers in the department you're interested in, at least informally.

    Added: I agree with Dr. Courtney, about PT teaching being an act of charitable giving. The reason I'm doing it is definitely not for the money, but instead, an opportunity for me to stay in the game.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  16. Dec 16, 2016 #15
    When you say you graded as a TA, do you mean you just graded homework, or do you mean you had duties, like presenting problems, gave office hours, etc. Make sure you play up all your responsibilities. Many TA's did not lecture in a classroom but still taught class.

    Most community colleges will ask you to perform a 10-20 minute presentation on a subject that they select. If you do a good job at this, you may be considered a lot higher than a more credentialed or more teaching experienced teacher that does not do as well. 4
    .
    I think one of the hardest job of teaching is fair grading and evaluation. Also teaching guitar requires many of the same people skills as teaching math. Go in with confidence. Best of Luck
     
  17. Dec 17, 2016 #16
    Yes, have done it all and plan to play it up. I did help sessions and tutoring, but the best experience was peer leading, which I did as an undergraduate. We did in class session once a week, similar to the help sessions, but with specific guided activites. As a graduate student, I then coordinated the peer leading, which meant all the peer leaders reported to me, I graded all the papers, and had office hours with all of the students. That was probably the hardest, most time consuming, and most realistic "this is what teaching is like" job I had.

    Hey, this is feeling like a practice interview.

    I'd have no problem with that. Have given lots of talks.
    I had some great professors I TA'd for and the lesson about grading was that good rubric=fair grading. I had to actually learn to be slightly less detail and feedback oriented then I thought was needed, for time and sanity. But that's what a rubric and office hours are for.

    And yes, guitar teaching was great. It was all about breaking something down to the student's level.

    Anyway, it's not the interview and stuff that I'm worried about as much as the actual qualification. The truth is I am probably fantasizing a bit and just need to get on with passing my bleeping qualifier.

    From now on if I post anything else like this you should all just probably respond with "pass your qualifier."

    -Dave K
     
  18. Dec 17, 2016 #17
    One of the CC's I applied at, I went to look over the CC. I met some of the faculty in the Arts- Ceramic department or something like that. This was three years ago. They gave me some unusual, but it was probably sound advice.
    I told them I was planning to introduce myself to the science department head and possibly some faculty before formally applying to the job posting. The faculty in ceramics told me DO NOT DO THIS.

    I also got this advice from a science department head at a local community college that did not have a job posting, who I believe was trying to be helpful. The department head told me that if I did this here, I would have to be excluded from consideration, because they have to be fair to the applicants that did not or could not introduce themselves before that step in their procedures.

    This may be cynical but I was left with the impression that if the hiring committee could get the best person for the job, or they could get a teacher consistent with their procedures and they could justify that they were fair to all applicants, they would take the latter. Of course, it is best if their procedures are fair and do get the best qualified applicant, but I do believe this is not necessarily the case either.

    It suppose it probably cannot hurt to get advice from the HR at the community college, but you might first get advice from HR at a CC that does not have a posting, this way you make possible mistakes at the CC you did not have much chance with anyway.

    One other hint that was told to me by my job adviser who also taught part time at a CC, is you will for sure, get a question probing the mission statement, and or/ vision statement at the CC.
     
  19. Dec 17, 2016 #18

    vela

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    Wow, that sounds wacky. So do they not consider people who have worked at the college part time for their full-time positions because it wouldn't be fair to applicants who hadn't worked there?


    Yeah, the CCs here are really weird about making sure they treat every applicant exactly the same way. The interviews can be pretty bizarre because of that.

    The reason I suggested Dave talk to HR is because he doesn't have his master's yet. If you have the right degrees, you don't have to worry about HR rejecting your application out of hand. If you don't, you need to jump through extra hoops to prove you're qualified for the position, or else HR will cut you out of the applicant pool before anything reaches the hiring committee. It could very well be the college will simply tell Dave to come back when he has his master's, or maybe a letter from the department saying he will be awarded his master's in May is good enough. The people in HR can tell Dave what he needs to do or if applying at this point in time is pointless.
     
  20. Dec 18, 2016 #19
    Talk to HR first may be good advice. I do feel many time HR excludes applications out of hand too much. I find many science professionals who discover qualified candidate filtered out by HR before they get to see them. I was told that once, HR forwarded resumes for physicists to the workers at the physical plant. I hope this is just an urban legend, but who knows. Maybe maintenance for heat, air conditioning, or electrical got some unusually qualified employees, (or maybe they didn't).
     
  21. Dec 19, 2016 #20
    As I said, I'm going directly towards somebody that contacted our math department looking for people, so whether I go to HR or not doesn't matter at the moment. That is, unless I don't hear back from them.

    Unfortunately, my qualifier is pushed until May, as I can't afford to enroll in a class to take it in January.

    -Dave K
     
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