Nerd Romance: Amicable Numbers

Two guys (with lovely accents by the way) explain the significance of the numbers 220 and 284 on their friendship keychains. Great stocking stuffer idea. Math for the win!

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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.

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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

DSCN1173Pythagoras, 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.

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.DSCN1132

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?).

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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?

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.

Calling all guys! (Girls, you can come too!)

Men, I would like to ask you a favor. It only requires you to do what you do best – think like a guy. I guess I will begin by giving you my motivations for writing this post and asking this of you.

First and foremost, I am a female. It’s as simple as that. I always hear guys say they don’t understand women, and I totally get it; we are complicated creatures with complicated feelings and ways of thinking and acting that even we don’t understand most of the time! But the same goes for guys; I admit, you seem much more simple, laid-back, and easy to read, but sometimes you make it difficult because (this is my theory, so you can correct me if you disagree) you don’t want to hinder your masculinity or the way people view you as a “manly man”.

Second, I am an educator and have dealt with, am dealing with, and will deal with in the future adolescent and teenage boys. Over the past two-ish years, I have been a student teacher, substitute (per diem and long-term), and am currently a teacher assistant for students ranging from seventh through twelfth grades. So I have been able to witness the difference between the younger boys and the older ones. I admit, they do a lot of growing up in those 5 years (which sometimes may seem unbelievable, but they do).

Third, I hope to have children of my own someday, and I am hoping some of them are boys.

And finally, I have been reading this great book by John Eldredge called Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of A Man’s Soul. In the introduction, Eldredge speaks about the purpose of the book, saying, “I believe it will help men get their heart back – and women as well. Moreover, it will help women to understand their men and help them live the life they both want” (p. xii).

So with this said, I want to ask you guys what it was like being a young and/or adolescent boy. Working with my current students (eighth and fifth grade boys) I have been trying to figure out their strengths, weaknesses, what makes them frustrated, what gives them motivation. A lot of the time, I also look for what makes them constantly talk/move and distract/bother others during class, causing the teacher or I to incessantly ask them to “stop [being rude; talking; etc]” or “don’t [hit him; flip the chair upside down; etc]” or whatever. I look at these boys’ behavior not only in terms of math students, but also looking at them as people and if these behaviors stem from something more than just disliking math or disliking school in general.

I try not to nitpick every act of defiance or every little annoyance because, honestly, I would be so tired and I think it would do more harm than good. I understand that boys (and girls, for that matter) would rather go outside and play, or watch TV, or just run around with no purpose. I get that; I was an active kid too. Eldredge addresses three desires that are universal of males: “They may be misplaced, forgotten, or misdirected, but in the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue” (p. 9).

So I, in no way, will expect my students or future children to sit perfectly still, not making a peep, for more than 10 seconds (unless you make it a game and the winner gets ice cream or a new Tonka truck, or something). I get it; kids need to move and be kids.

So here is where you come in guys (and I completely open the floor to women who have insight as well!). Do you remember what you were like at the middle and high school ages? What makes boys tick? Is there a way to handle “hyperactivity” (medically diagnosed or not), whether you used it on your own students/children or it worked on you growing up? Any other tips or insight into the minds of boys is greatly accepted and appreciated!

Also, I am not even halfway through this book, but I highly recommend it to guys and girls alike! Check it out here on Amazon (there’s a Kindle version!).

Halfway There

So I have not written a post in a couple of weeks. I have a good reason, I promise. Just hear me out!

I started graduate school this past January at Teachers College, Columbia University. And just an hour ago I finished my last final for the semester. I survived a semester of graduate school in New York City!

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I had planned on getting my degree next May. However, 2 weeks ago, I realized something. I am only 1 credit shy of being halfway done with my Masters requirements. What the what?! After crunching and re-crunching the numbers, reading and rereading the requirements, I spoke with my advisor just to make sure I was not overlooking something. Sure enough he confirmed that this is more than doable.

I kid you not, the clouds opened, the angels sang, and God said, “Holliday, you shall finish in December.” So that’s what I plan to do.

How awesome will it be to save a whole semester worth of housing and credits and the God-forsaken ‘College fee’ that is mandatory but no one knows what it is used for. Oh, maybe to supply us with those goofy ‘Student Senate’ plastic Ray-Ban wannabes. And our 20 “free” printed pages per week.

Anyways, so saving money will be fantastic. Except then reality hit:

“I will be done in December. That means I have to be an adult that much sooner. I will need somewhere to live. I will need a job to support myself. Not to mention, student loans will kick in that much sooner. Gah, what did I get myself into?!”

But, in all honesty, I am excited to see what will happen. I am over the moon that I get to start my “real-world” life sooner. I have been exploring careers outside of the typical ‘math teacher’ realm; coming to TC has really opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of the classroom.

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I am not completely abandoning the idea of becoming a classroom teacher (especially because I totally want that shirt!), but it is exciting what new and improving technology is creating in terms of jobs and experiences.

So the point of this post was:

1.  To apologize for not posting in awhile. I’ve been a good girl, telling myself that instead of writing a blog post I should be studying and doing homework.

2.  To let out some built-up fear and excitement for the future.

3.  To share this journey and hopefully help others who may be going through or will go through similar situations and may have similar decisions to make.

So what are your thoughts? Any ideas about what future endeavors a Masters in Mathematics Education could possibly explore? What do you hope to do by the end of this year?

Yes, Virginia (and everyone else), I live in New York City

So for those of you who did not know, I have been living in the City That Never Sleeps.

Yes, Virginia, I have been living in New York City for two and a half months now…and I forgot how many people I didn’t tell. I guess maybe they thought I was just working as a substitute teacher and glamorous Walmart supervisor for these last few months. Others, well, either don’t care to know my whereabouts or thought I fell off the face of the earth?

I was actually accepted into Teachers College, Columbia University back in August last year, but coming in the fall was too soon to get everything prepared to leave home. That’s a whole other complicated story (AKA: my life), so maybe one day you’ll hear about it. I’ve always been told that my life would make a good book; I think I should get better at blogging first, then I’ll consider it.

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I applied for two schools: University at Buffalo and Teachers College. I had already been admitted into UB’s Math Education graduate program, and was planning on starting in the fall, so I had a fallback plan if TC didn’t accept me. I honestly didn’t think I had a chance of getting into TC; I mean, come on, it’s affiliated with Columbia! I’m just this small-town (though, technically, Batavia is a city) girl, I never received huge awards from school (high school or college), my grades were good but they could definitely find better people to take my place. It was quite a stressful summer waiting to hear from TC.

And then, on an August evening, I got an email from TC, directing me to the ‘decision’ page of my application. This was it; I mentally prepared myself to read, “We are sorry to inform you…” or something along those lines. So when I read, “We are happy to inform you…” I just about wet my pants. I think I screamed.

As excited as I was, the idea of moving in only a month was terrifying. Like I said, it wasn’t going to be as easy as students who move away to college freshman year and whose parents can take care of all the messy details: house, transportation, the actual moving process, etc. So I knew that if I accepted admittance into TC, I would be deferring to the spring semester to allow me more time to prepare myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially.

I only told a select few because I didn’t want to announce it publicly over Facebook that I was leaving town to go to NYC. There are multiple reasons, but one of the bigger ones was due to self-doubt and pride.

Okay, sure, I got accepted into this crazy awesome graduate school, but…What if I can’t hack it in the city? What if I come back after a semester because I hate it there? What if I fail: classes, living far from home, life in general?

And when I did tell people, I would make it seem like I was prepared to fail. Just in case I didn’t like it or ended up not doing well, I would be willing to come home without making a huge scene, reapplying to Walmart (that would make 5 stints there), and assume my old life back home.

If I hate it, no big deal, I’ll just come home.

It was definitely a defense mechanism, but, looking back, it was only defense from myself. Everyone I told was nothing but excited and supportive; we were all people living in a small city in western New York, so just thinking and talking about going to and living in a huge city like NY was thrilling. Absolutely everyone was pumped for me. Everyone but myself. Okay, it’s not that I wasn’t excited. The problem was that I was so excited I was afraid I would overlook the possibilities of failure and end up getting clotheslined by life.

Why do we do this to ourselves? If any of my friends came and told me they got accepted into a prestigious college and/or were moving somewhere, I would be ecstatic for them! A couple of my friends have done this actually (not for school but for jobs) and I couldn’t be happier. And I’m so glad they told me so that I can be excited for them and support them! But when it came to myself, I was so bent out of shape about the negative possibilities, doubting my ability to do well in school or survive a new city, that I wasn’t willing to share it with anyone but those I was closest to.

So to those of you whom I didn’t tell, I really apologize. I was afraid that if I told everyone and made this huge hype, it would blow up in my face and I would end up falling flat on my tush. Then I wouldn’t just be letting myself down, but I would feel as though I failed all the people I told, all the people that believed in me. I felt as though my failure would extinguish any fire in the hearts of those coming from a small city and wanting to explore living in a bigger city. If I couldn’t do it, I know it would discourage me, but would that also discourage others?

I’m glad to say that I love it here. These past two+ months have been exciting, challenging, eye-opening, and amazing. I’ve been wanting to write about my experiences here, but there was still such an uneasiness with letting people know and actually knowing myself whether I liked it here enough to stay. I plan on being here for the next year, and after that, who knows? Maybe I’ll love it enough to find a job here for a few years before I settle down and start a family; I don’t really want my future kids growing up in such a huge, overwhelming city. Or maybe I’ll find a job in another great city. Maybe a different country. Who knows? I do know, now that the cat is out of the bag, that I’m excited to write about anything that may come up.