Teaching Math in Alaska - a few questions!

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Teaching Math in Alaska - a few questions!

Postby abstir6 » Wed Oct 14, 2015 3:24 pm


I am hoping to get some feedback from anyone with experience specifically teaching Math in Alaska.

I received my yellow card and my temporary two year certificate for Alaska. I am HQ certified for Math 5-9.

1. Does anyone have first hand experience teaching Middle School Math in Alaska? While being certified 5-9, are you able to teach 9th grade Algebra to 8th graders as an advanced class? I ask because this is what I do now, but one of the principals I reached out to for a middle school position was not sure if I am able to teach Algebra to 8th graders without being certified in HS math; so any personal experience clarification would be appreciated!

2. I reached out for a position in what I considered to be a "larger" city for Alaska. The position was advertised as "middle school math" so I inquired for the specifics of the classes to be taught. The principal replied back and told me it would be: 6th, 7th, 8th, Algebra, Geometry and possibly shared with the local HS. Is this common? I am definitely not a lazy person, and teaching is my passion, but 5 different preps just seems a little intense, especially five completely different preps. Again, not trying to complain, just wondering if this is common so I won't be as surprised when I continue my search for a position.

3. Do most schools guarantee a teacher at least one planning period? Is it common for a teacher to give up a planning for extra pay of teaching another class? It is pretty common where I currently work, so I am wondering if it works the same in Alaska. Also, do any/most schools work on a block schedule, or are most traditional 7-8 periods a day?

Whew, that is a lot. Thank you in advance! Counting the days until the job fair in March :)
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Re: Teaching Math in Alaska - a few questions!

Postby Bushteachers » Sat Oct 17, 2015 2:59 pm

1. One of taught MS and HS math (though certified 6-12 math). Algebra could be a MS math class. As long as you are teaching in the MS, then you should be fine. I'd check into the possibility of whether or not a HS credit is given, though as long as there is a plan to get you highly qualified, you should be good (the other one of us taught MS/HS ELA while taking multiple praxis exams over a two year period).

2. Math teachers are hard to find. My wife (the math teacher) has taught 6 different math classes and sometimes had to teach two math classes during one class period. Alaska teaching is totally different than lower 48 teaching because of numbers. The size of the school makes a difference. My wife is currently teaching 5 different preps at our new location as well. Some of the larger road schools (fairbanks, Anchorage, and Mat-Su) might be a little different with the number of kids, but many schools just don't have the HS population to justify a math teacher teaching only one subject.

3. Most Alaska school districts (I think all) have negotiated agreements. Those can be found online. In the NA there are certain guidelines that are supposed to be followed. I have never heard of the working an extra class to get extra pay. Sounds crazy to me. Do we get a full hour of prep? Nope. I get 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. Maybe some of the larger schools have a little more flexibility, but not in rural Alaska.
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Re: Teaching Math in Alaska - a few questions!

Postby cyclone67 » Sat Oct 17, 2015 7:18 pm

Can't help you about the math questions but about the prep: Yep, every district (and even some variance between schools) will have different policies. Where i just came from the only prep period we had was the hour we were required to be there before school started. Other than that I had students the whole day except for about 20 minutes at lunch. However other schools at our district had specials teachers so the teachers could get an unofficial prep period when their kids were at art or PE.

Some schools will have the middle school students self contained with one teacher more like Elementary and some will have them joined in with the high schools (K-12 bush schools). Again, varies.
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Re: Teaching Math in Alaska - a few questions!

Postby ksralaska » Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:39 pm

Hi there! First of all know I'm a new teacher in a rural district (Southeast Island). There are lots of differences here because the schools are so small. The school I'm in (Naukati) has only 19 students, so it's a two teacher school.

1. I'm not sure about this one. I teach 8th grade math and Algebra 1. I am currently bringing my 8th grader into Algebra 1 because she's ahead with 8th grade. If she gets through Algebra 1, and does well, she'll be able to start Algebra 2 next year (but won't receive credit for Algebra 1 in high school - impossible for 8th grade, I was told by my principle). In so far as teaching beyond your "credentials," I think that's really up to your principal and superintendent. It's simply impossible in a two-teacher school like mine to be credentialed in every subject needed to be taught.

2. In rural AK you can expect to teach a lot of things. For instance, I teach Math, Earth Science, Entrepreneurship, PE, English, and Civics. (!) I love it, but when you consider your planning time - remember it's a lot tougher if you're teaching six individual subjects :-). 6-8 math, Algebra, and Geom would be a lot easier than what a lot of rural folks have to go through. That said, obviously it's important to realize limitations and that the more planning time you have, the more you'll probably like your job, the better you'll do, and the better lessons you'll have. Which brings me to...

3. In my district we have a four day school week. Meaning that every other Friday we can a planning period. This is SO HELPFUL for teachers. However, we do not get a period off during the week to plan... So it seems to depend. I suspect most new teachers like me live and breath lesson planning all throughout their day. I'm only now getting used to it.

Keane Richards
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Re: Teaching Math in Alaska - a few questions!

Postby Adrianna » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:23 am

I am a born and Raised Alaskan currently going to school for elementary education and plan to graduate from University of Alaska Fairbanks. Keep in mind as said that Alaskan schools are so different especially when it comes to urban vs rural vs bush. Research and ask questions of the districts you are applying to and also ask on the state website as well as pertains to education. It all depends on how many teachers and students in your specific school in your specific district when it comes to planning periods and subjects taught. This is a state that is very different as much of the state has no road access and that has to be factored in. So if your example your at a school with say 2 teachers and less children. Then your planning time is going to be different then a school with 3-4 or a half a dozen teachers and so on. This sounds vague but you need to research each school district your interested in very thoroughly. The most important thing is to be flexible. Anyway good luck and happy Job Searching. Also another tip off topic but very relevant, planning groceries, money and knowing every single item has to be shipped in becomes a factor. Alaska is not a cheap state.
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