Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 02 2010

Cool Jobs and Math Class

I just sent this email out to 120 of my closest friends. Since there are 180 days in a school year, I need all of them to respond plus 60 more thoughts from other people. (Ha, see my math teacher subtraction skills?) If you didn’t get this email, I still really want you to think about this. Please leave your ideas in the comments or send them to [email protected]

As most of you know, I just finished my first year teaching 8th grade math with Teach For America. It was a great year overall, but there are a couple things that I really need to improve over the summer.

One of the hardest parts of my job was convincing eighth graders that they need to pay attention because the random things we learn might one day be relevant to their lives. I spent a lot of the year saying vague things like, “When you’re a doctor, you’re going to need this”, but I didn’t really know what I was talking about and so they didn’t really care. Here’s where you come in.

If you could write me back to tell me ANY ways that you use math in your job, or how you needed math to get your job, or how you will use math when you get out of school, I’d really appreciate it. I’ll feature you and your job in my classroom and talk up how cool you are to my kids. It can be as simple as using negative numbers because sometimes you lose money, or as interesting as multiplying prime numbers to create secure connections on the internet. Think about presentations that require graphs, required math classes in school, measurement, money, etc. If you need inspiration, everything we cover is here:, but even if it’s not on that list I’m positive I can find a way to make it relevant.  I just really need you to help me with ideas.

Also, if you know anyone else with a cool job, I’d love if you would forward this to them.

I’m hoping to feature new jobs daily, and I’d settle for weekly. To do that I need lots of jobs, so please share anything you can think of. You might think it’s irrelevant or obvious, but I promise my kids have never considered it before.


5 Responses

  1. Kristin

    I love that you did this. I teach special education math and have THE MOST difficult time trying to explain to my kids how they will use any of this math in their real lives. Since a lot of my kids won’t go on to be doctors, etc., it is extremely difficult to relate algebra to them. Are you planning to post what you find/hear? I’d love to have this helpful resource as well!

  2. This is a great idea! Have you e-mailed admissions people at your alma mater? I know they must use tons of math to project models for the incoming class and things like that. Development/fundraising people probably do the same as well.

  3. Mariss

    I am a Starbucks manager (and incoming 2010 Phoenix corps member), and the curriculum component that I use the most in my job is summary statistics. I use mean, median, mode, and range to analyze USDs (units sold daily) and plan production. For example, if I know that the mode for pastries sold on Friday is 26 and the range of pastries sold on that day goes from 24 to 32, I use those numbers to plan how many pastries to set out. If you want to delve into this anymore, my email is mbeaith (at) yahoo (dot) com.

  4. Giselle

    I recently graduated with my 2nd Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts…yes, I am an artist…and used math all the time. For 3D projects, I had to know how to measure angles and cut materials precisely…or they would not fit together. I had to calculate the number of paint tubes it would take to be able to paint a canvas of a certain size. When hanging artwork, I had to calculate the number of pieces of various dimensions that would fit on wall space of certain dimensions….you get the idea! I have never been a “math person” so I was surprised when I realized how much math (and science) is used in art!

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