Guest Post on

I’ve written a guest post on the This Is Grad School blog.  Go take a read and leave a comment!

[EDIT (1/4/2017): Alas, the ThisIsGradSchool blog has gone down (grad school isn’t meant to last forever, after all). Please find my post below for posterity.]


If I’m honest with myself, I know that there is some part of me, however small, that loves grad school and doesn’t want it to end. Granted, sometimes that part of me is drowned out by the pressures of high-stakes deadlines and lit reviews that never seem to end (as each article leads to at least two more articles that simply must be included).

I know that this phase of my personal and professional life is not a destination, however, but a key step to something else. Specifically, I’ve got to get a job! And, unless you’re blessed with independent wealth and no recurring obligations, you too have to find employment that will put your newly acquired skills to use. Having just completed that process myself (Shh! No spoilers… wait for the big reveal at the end), I’d like to share the top five bits of wisdom that I’ve learned (some of it the hard way).

  1. It’s never too early to start! “Yes,” you say, “I know that I have to think about finding a job when I’m done, but right now, I’m just trying to make it through [insert really difficult course here]!” I get it. The end of your grad school road is still years away.
    I’ve listed this one first, though, because this was one of those hard lessons for me. When I started my job search in earnest, I quickly realized that it was much more complicated and challenging than I thought it would be, and that I was about a year away from being as marketable as I wanted to be (publishing takes a long time).
    Wherever you are in your journey, start now! Search for available positions like the ones to which you ultimately plan to apply. Then put together the application for real. Write the cover letter. Pollish your CV. Consider who you would have write recommendations and think about what they might say.
    When you try to present evidence to potential employers (even hypothetical ones) that supports strengths that you know you possess, you’ll figure out pretty quickly if your evidence is strong enough. When you see an area with insufficient evidence to make your case, you have time to fix it. If your service is strong, maybe you should focus on getting a publication out. Maybe you’ve got the publications, but you need evidence of teaching excellence. Whatever it is, figure out what you need while you still have the time to go get it.
  1. You’ve got more options than you think you do! The professor of the first course in my doctoral program (the course that everyone takes, regardless of program or track) told us that he was there to turn us into professors. At the time, I said to myself, “Well that’s great and all… but what if I don’t want to be a professor?” (Looking back, that was kind of ironic… but that’s really what I said.)
    There are nearly limitless options for you on the other side of grad school. You could find a post-doctoral fellowship. You could work for a private company. You could join a non-profit foundation. You could start your own business as a consultant. In your specific field there may be all kinds of options that I would never even think of. Investigate all of them!
  1. You’ve got a lot of resources! Every conference that I go to has some kind of graduate student strand, event, or seminar, and the vast majority of them deal with employment. As scholars and academics get more and more specialized and differentiated, this is the one thing that all grad students need. I recommend that you go to all of them. I attended them religiously, and I always learned something valuable. If you are thinking of becoming a professor. Visit and read everything that you can. Karen gives straight talk and great advice.
  2. Learn patience, perseverance, and optimism! Academic jobs have an unusually long timeline. You may be able to apply for some positions more than a year before the start date. In fact, it is virtually impossible to find, apply for, and land a job in a month, no matter how hard you try.
    Just like many other slow processes, trying to rush it never goes well. I’ve got a favorite barbecue place in town that serves an amazing brisket. If John Rivers and his people didn’t start making my brisket long before it ever occurred to me that I should go get some, however, I probably don’t actually want it.
    Also, I’m not going to tell you that it’s right, or even excusable, but you will never hear from at least half of the places to which you apply. No feedback; no condolences, no pep talk… just… silence. I applied to 22 positions with 20 different organizations. I heard back from eight of them [as of 1/4/17, I’ve now heard from 11 of them… exactly half]. The right job is out there for you. Don’t get discouraged! Keep throwing out your line until you get a nibble.
  1. Lean on the ones close to you! The people around you are critical Your family, friends, professors, advisors, classmates… you need all of them! Your friends and family keep you anchored and sane. Well, maybe my wife wouldn’t vouch for my sanity (How could she with all that I’ve willingly taken on?), but without her support I would have lost my last shred of clarity long ago. Your professors, advisors, and mentors have all been through it before, too, so heed their wisdom.
    Don’t forget to look around your classes, though. Your fellow grad students are the most amazing resource ever!! I’ve never seen any other group of people collaborate and support one another so naturally as grad students. The job search is a great place to build in some systems of support for one another. Read and critique one another’s cover letters and CVs. Hold mock interviews with one another. Ask a trusted mentor to share advice and experience with the group. If you have a colleague who is in the thick of the search now, send them some encouragement. When grad students get together on an issue, they all win!

Is there more advice and wisdom to share? Of course there is, but these five key elements will give you a really solid foundation on which to build. Know that there is light at the end of this very long tunnel. The job search is a long and arduous process but, like everything else related to grad school, it is completely worth it!

With all of the foreshadowing and side comments throughout my post, you may have already guessed it. I did decide that I wanted to be a professor, and I spent my job search looking for tenure track positions. The process that I started last August has finally come to a close! After ten months of searching, and waiting, and applying, and waiting, and interviewing, and waiting, and hoping, and waiting… I just accepted a tenure track Assistant Professor position starting in August 2016!!

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Statistics and Data (统计和数据)

Our next unit deals with statistics.  Today, we will begin by talking about measures of central tendency, which are ways to describe or summarize a group of data.

The next portion of the textbook that we will use is Module 16.

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Chapter 15

Module 15

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A Note for Jiabai

Tomorrow, everyone at school will take the Florida Writing Test, including you.  We know that you have only been in the country for about five months, and that you have not learned very much English yet, however state law requires you to take the test in English and to write your response in English, as well.

For the test, you will be asked to read several text passages, and to use information from each of those passages to write an essay.  You will be asked to write a complete, well-developed, organized essay that uses evidence from the text passages to support your points.  You will be given two hours to complete the test.

Because you have not been in the country for a full year, this test will not count against you or against our school.  You will still be required to take the test however, so please do your best.  You will be given a Chinese-English Dictionary to help you, but you may not use Google Translate or any other devices to help you.  Do you have any questions?

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Intensified Algebra Plan for Thursday (2/25)

Today, we will complete:

  1. Lesson 16.9 – Modeling with systems of inequalities
  2. Topic 16 More Practice

What to do Today:

  1. Log in to the Agile Mind website.
  2. During 1st period, complete the Lesson 16.9 and all of the related pages in your student activity book
  3. During 2nd period, complete the More Practice assignment online
  4. Five minutes before dismissal, please SHUT THE COMPUTERS DOWN and PLUG THEM BACK IN.  Then clean up the room before you leave.
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Intensified Algebra Plan for Wednesday (2/24)

Today, we will complete:

  1. Topic 16 Guided Assessment

What to do Today:

  1. Log in to the Agile Mind website.
  2. Complete the online guided assessment.  Take your time, and be sure to use scratch paper and a calculator.
  3. Five minutes before dismissal, please SHUT THE COMPUTERS DOWN and PLUG THEM BACK IN.  Then clean up the room before you leave.
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Sixth Grade Advanced Mathematics (2/17)

Guiding Question (指导性问题):

How can I use absolute value to find the distance between two points on the coordinate plane?

Standards (标准):

6.NS.3.6.bUnderstand signs of numbers in ordered pairs as indicating locations in quadrants of the coordinate plane; recognize that when two ordered pairs differ only by signs, the locations of the points are related by reflections across one or both axes.

6.NS.3.8Solve real-world and mathematical problems by graphing points in all four quadrants of the coordinate plane. Include use of coordinates and absolute value to find distances between points with the same first coordinate or the same second coordinate.

Agenda (议程):

  • Complete pages 402 and 403 of Module 14
  • Complete this online practice at Khan Academy
  • Complete “Guided Practice” on page 404

Homework (家庭作业):

  • Complete “Guided Practice” if not already complete
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Sixth Grade Advanced Mathematics (2/17)

Guiding Question (指导性问题):

How can I use absolute value to find the distance between two points on the coordinate plane?

Agenda (议程):

  • Complete “Explore Activity 1” on page 401 of Module 14 (整个模块14的401页上的“探索活动1”)
  • Finding Distances in the Coordinate Plane (在寻找坐标平面的距离)
  • “Guided Practice” on page 404 (404页的“指导实践”)
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Agile Mind Plan for 2/18

Note for Students:

I will be up the hill for a meeting today during your class.  This was a last minute change in plans (the meeting was supposed to be this afternoon), but we can make it work without losing any time.  Follow the instructions below and take care of each other today.  Y’all are rock stars!  Thanks for being so flexible!!

Today, we will complete:

  1. Lesson 16.1 – Introducing systems of linear equations
  2. Lesson 16.2 – Solving systems of linear equations using number sense

What to do Today:

  1. Log in to the Agile Mind website.  Leave that tab open and then come back here.
  2. Get the pages you need out of your Student Activity Book (SAB).
  3. You must work with a table-partner to get the most out of today’s lesson.  You may work in pairs or in threes.  (Somebody go drag Meghan over to your table…  No, seriously…  Go. Get. Her. Now.  …  Thank you!  :)
  4. Discuss the Opener with your table partner(s).  The oldest person at the table make sure that everyone contributes something.  (5 minutes)
  5. Go to online page 3.  The person with the longest hair read the page.
  6. Take 10 minutes to discuss as a group how you might solve the problem. The person with the shortest hair must make sure that everyone offers an idea.  (You’ll need to write some things down…  Get some scratch paper or a small whiteboard.)
  7. The person wearing the brightest colors, lead the group through online page 4.  Play the animations and discuss how they solve things.  Make sure you complete the SAB as you go.  You should have up to question 7 done by the time you leave page 4.
  8. The person with the most brothers and sisters lead the group through online pages 5 and 6 (count pets to break ties).  The one with the least, make sure everyone gets through question 11 in the SAB completed.
  9. Complete Lesson 16.2 Homework until you go on break.

After Break:

  1. Go on to Lesson 16.2
  2. Take 5 to 7 minutes to solve the opener together.  The person with the shortest pencil makes sure that everyone contributes.
  3. Go to online page 3.  Work through this problem together.  The person with the longest pencil control the website.  Don’t show the answer4s until the group decides on one together (15-20 minutes).
  4. The person who has taken the lead the least so far today is responsible for online page 4.  Everyone should have the SAB complete through question 6 when you’re done.
  5. Complete the Lesson 16.2 homework until 5 minutes before dismissal.
  6. The SHUT THE COMPUTERS DOWN and PLUG THEM BACK IN.  Then clean up the room before you leave.
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Agile Mind Plan for 2/16

Link to the Agile Mind website (

Today, we will complete:

  1. Lesson 15.6Compound inequalities in the plane
  2. Take the Unit 5 End-of-Unit Assessment
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