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[ Update: Form has now been sent off. I would still like… - Sally's Journal
September 29th, 2005
11:00 am

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[Update: Form has now been sent off. I would still like criticism, as I fear there may be many more job application forms, but if you could make it gentle criticism that would help :) ]

"Show how your application meets the person specification for the courses you are applying to teach"

* a degree in mathematics
- University of Cambridge, Mathematics Tripos: BA (Hons) First Class
- University of Cambridge, Mathematics Tripos: Certificate of Advanced Study of Mathematics (Part III) with Merit

* experience (preferably in higher education) of teaching pure mathematics, in some or all of the following areas: real analysis, group theory and linear algebra.
- Supervisor for Queens' College, Cambridge. (Supervisions are Cambridge tutorials where two students discuss and work through the problem sheets from lectures with their supervisor. The supervisor is responsible for collecting work from the students, marking it, delivering the supervision, and providing feedback to the Director of Studies.)
- Supervised the course Algebra and Geometry for first year students, which includes linear algebra and group theory.

* an appreciation of how adults learn and an appreciation of study skills.
- Aided by study skills learning sessions organised by Cambridge University Students Union, acquired a wide range of study skills during time at university, including time management, memory techniques, note taking and exam skills.
- Balancing the demands of a M.Phil with the responsibilities of living out of college has given insight into the difficulties faced by adults who try to study while committed to families and jobs.

* the ability and willingness to promote the learning of adults through correspondence tuition, telephone and face-to-face tuition and, where appropriate, online tuition
- Enjoy promoting the learning of mathematics to all, regardless of age, and have great respect for adults who are voluntarilly committing to a program of learning out of personal interest.
- Have experience in face-to-face tuition from supervising for Queens', and also dealt with queries from supervisees by email.
- Am comfortable and confident about communicating via telephone, having been responsible for liasing by telephone with schools and other venues for the Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society

* the ability to use information and communication technology in teaching and supporting students and communicating with other areas of the OU
- Skilled in the use of computers running both Windows and Linux.
- Familiar with a wide variety of software, including Microsoft Office, Matlab, and Acrobat.
- Comfortable using a wide range of email clients and web-browsers, including Outlook, Pine, Internet Explorer and Firefox.

* the ability to work with students from diverse educational, cultural, and work backgrounds
- Supervised first term students with a range of qualifications from highly disparate educational backgrounds, including foreign students who were new to the UK education system.

* the ability to work with students with disabilities
- Have written and produced plays tailored to the needs of the special needs school communities around Cambridgeshire, which include students with ADHD, wheelchair bound students, and students with Aspergers Syndrome.

* a commitment to student-centred learning
- Committed to enabling all students, regardless of ability, to fulfil their potential.
- While supervising gave extra time to students in need of additional support to make sure they were firm on the basics required for examination, and stretched bright students with extra material. Although clear deadlines for work to be submitted by were set, these were flexible if the student's circumstances required it.

* an understanding of and commitment to equal opportunities policies and practices
- Believe that education should be available to all, and that all people should be treated equally regardless of colour, disability, race, marital status, religion, gender, sexual orientation and spent convictions.

* an organised and systematic approach to work
- Systematic approach to problems developed while studying the Mathematics Tripos.
- High levels of organisation were needed to balance commitments to degrees and societies, and to arrange large events such as the Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival.

* the potential for working successfully in a team and the potential for working independently
- Successfully self-motivated through undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
- M.Phil has stretched and developed my ability to independently arrange things, including a significant chunk of experimental work.
- Active member of many University committees, including Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society, and the Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival organising committee, both in leadership roles and as part of the team.

* good written and oral communication skills
- Produced an essay on non-linear dynamics to high standard (alpha) as part of CASM.
- Experienced in giving presentations to both academics and industry during M.Phil.
- Regularly call dances for the English Country Dance Society

* a commitment to personal staff development
- Two years of post graduate study in order to expand and develop skills.
- Before starting M.Phil attended a comprehensive turbomachinery course to bridge the gap between post-graduate study of mathematics and post-graduate study of engineering.
- Attended training courses provided by Cambridge University to improve teaching skills before commencing supervising.

* availability and accessibility to students
- Replied quickly and clearly to emails from supervisees.
- Students who needed additional support able to approach me and talk about their difficulties adapting to the Cambridge tripos.
- Arranged supervisions at times convenient for all.

* ability to travel to designated tutorial centres.
- Full clean UK driving licence and own car.

(35 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
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From:emperor
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:13 am (UTC)
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If there's space, you might want to make some of these more sentance-like (unless it says to use bullet points).

"Successfully supervised..." is there room to say how you measure that success?

similarly, maybe name a committee or two - to make the example more concrete.

Also, I'd deploy a spell-checker "balancing" is spelt thusly, for example.

Generally, it's good, though.
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From:rillaith
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:18 am (UTC)
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2 duplicated apragraphcs - information technology and diverse backgorunds. Content looks good though (I didn't have nit-picky head on, though I did notice the balencing too!)
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From:atreic
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:21 am (UTC)
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Sorry, fixed that - that was a problem getting the application form to LJ, not a problem with the application form!

Have spellchecked too now :)
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From:emperor
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:20 am (UTC)
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specific bits I'd make more grammatical:

"Balencing[sic] the demands of *my* M.Phil.....has given *me* insight..."

conversely, I think

"Skilled in the use of" reads better than "Am skilled"

I'd go "I developed a systematic approach to problems while..."

"High levels of organisation were needed ...."

doesn't "self-motivated" have a hyphen?

"strecthed and developed my"

"Produced *an* essay on"

decide whether you're hyphenating post-graduate or not, and be consistent.

"Weak students were able to..."

I'd shorten to "Arranged supervisions at times..."

Full clean UK drivine license. I own my own car.
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From:atreic
Date:September 29th, 2005 11:16 am (UTC)
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Err, balancing isn't spelt balencing. So why did you write [sic] for spelling is correct after it?
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From:enismirdal
Date:September 29th, 2005 11:27 am (UTC)
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As I understood it, [sic] is what you put when you are quoting their exact words and spelling, even though you believe it to be incorrect. Some Latin thing...
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From:enismirdal
Date:September 29th, 2005 11:28 am (UTC)
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Having said that, you didn't spell it "balencing"...

So I dunno! *lol*
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From:satanicsocks
Date:September 29th, 2005 12:25 pm (UTC)
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I believe atreic originally spelt it that way and corrected it later. You're right on "sic", Latin for "thus" and I have no idea why it's used that way. Definitely doesn't stand for 'spelling is correct' though, as it's almost always used when someone's incorrect spelling or grammar is quoted. :)
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From:robert_jones
Date:September 29th, 2005 01:14 pm (UTC)
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It seems a perfectly natural usage. It scans as something like, "Appears thus in the original."
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From:satanicsocks
Date:September 29th, 2005 01:22 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I wasn't clear. I understand that the meaning's relevant, and as someone who's studied a lot of Latin it scans without problem for me. But I don't know (and a quick googling didn't tell me) why that usage has remained, though I suppose that it's along the same lines as ibid and stet which we still use today.

Wikipedia did tell me, however, that Sally's supposition of 'spelling is correct' covers a valid usage of 'sic', despite sic not being an acronym itself, which I hadn't considered before. :)
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From:emperor
Date:September 29th, 2005 01:22 pm (UTC)
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sic is latin for "thus". It's used to highlight an error in the material one is quoting [OED ref]. Of course, you've corrected the spelling since I quoted it.
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From:miss_next
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:21 am (UTC)
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I agree with emperor; I caught another typo ("techneques" for "techniques"). Otherwise, great. :-)

If I ever have any reason to move to the Cambridgeshire area, you could end up tutoring me...
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From:atreic
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:24 am (UTC)
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Don't be silly, I won't get the job, but I need practice in filling in the damn forms, and it would be a very fun thing to do!
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From:the_alchemist
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:26 am (UTC)
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Oh you will. They're desperate. They even offered me a job, and for a course where it's much easier to find teachers.

Um... not they wouldn't take you if they weren't desperate. But they are.
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From:atreic
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:45 am (UTC)
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Don't say that, I'll feel even worse if I get turned down now :)
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From:the_alchemist
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:47 am (UTC)
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Yes I thought that after I wrote it. To be fair I don't actually have any evidence that they're desperate for maths tutors, it's just that they let me in so easily and generally people with maths qualifications are much harder to find than people with with humanities ones.
From:yrieithydd
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:25 am (UTC)
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I think I'd put `with aspergers syndrome' rather than just `with aspergers'; I might capitalise them too.
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From:the_alchemist
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:25 am (UTC)
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It would read better if you wrote in either full sentences or bullet points.
From:stephdairy
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:27 am (UTC)
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Driving licence.

(S)
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From:plinthy
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:47 am (UTC)
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Believe that education should be available to all, and that all people should be treated equally regardless of colour, disability, race, marital status, religion, gender, sexual orientation and spent convictions.

Maybe mention a time when you've demonstrated this, rather than just expressing a belief?

Should wheelchair bound have a hyphen too?

Not sure about using the aconym CASM - might confuse if you haven't put it in brackets after Certificate ... Mathematics at the top.

Incidentally, I think it's fantastic and amazing how quickly you've gotten going applying for stuff.

Joe
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From:atreic
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:50 am (UTC)
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I don't think I've ever demonstrated that. I mean, I'm not evilly bigotted, and I'm sure I supervised my chinese students in the same way I did my other students, but it's very hard to say "this was a case where I *wasn't* unfair"...
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From:badasstronaut
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:53 am (UTC)
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Personally I'd advise against describing a group as 'weak students' - it's a labelling problem. 'Students who need additional support' might be better.

I know some teachers tend to do this; I always advise them against it though, and you never know - you might get an educational developer looking at your application!
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From:badasstronaut
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:54 am (UTC)
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btw - haven't read this thoroughly but that's just what immediately caught my eye.
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From:atreic
Date:September 29th, 2005 10:54 am (UTC)
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Thankyou! It's those sort of things that I don't have a clue about...
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From:robert_jones
Date:September 29th, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC)
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How is it a labelling problem? Some students are weaker than others. It might be demoralising to tell a student that to his or her face, but it seems a sensible categorisation for internal purposes.
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From:badasstronaut
Date:September 29th, 2005 02:55 pm (UTC)
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What does it help you with internally?

How do you know the student is 'weaker'? Do you mean they're stupider? How do you know? Slower? Have produced poorer work? Have had a particularly crap year? Poorer work on a specific assignment isn't necessarily a reflection of their overall ability, but some people will get a label on that basis. People make all kinds of flawed assumptions and then act on them, including teachers. I cringe sometimes at some of the ways my colleagues describe students, and I've suffered personally in the past as a result of the labels other people have attributed to me. It wasn't until I wa s apostgrad student that I realised I didn't have to be a 'weak' student.

There's plenty of research evidence showing labelling by teachers (and their relative expectations of their students' performance can impact on learners' performance (in either direction). I'd like to be able to hope a tutor wouldn't be unduly influenced by negative labelling of a student by his or her colleague, but unfortunately I can't.
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From:robert_jones
Date:September 30th, 2005 12:15 am (UTC)
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It helps you internally because you need to know what the problems are to have any chance of solving them. And "needs additional help" is rather vague in this respect.

Anyone who has ever taught anything will know that not all students are of equal ability. A weak student is one who, all other things being equal, will produce work of a lower standard than a strong student, or even an average student. The term "less able" would also cover the same meaning.

It seems clear that there is a range of abilities and also that different teaching techniques need to be deployed to meet the needs of more or less able students, and therefore it seems essential that these students be identified.
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From:badasstronaut
Date:September 30th, 2005 05:58 am (UTC)
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I'm not terribly interested in debating this point with you. I was simply responding to atreic's request for comments on her application, and it's up to her whether she decides to make use of it or ignore it.

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From:lacuna
Date:September 29th, 2005 11:59 am (UTC)
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* the ability to work with students from diverse educational, cultural, and work backgrounds
- Supervised first term students with a range of qualifications from highly disparate educational backgrounds, including foreign students who were new to the UK education system.


I think this could be over-egging the pudding a bit. Cambridge students are about as homogeneous a group as you're going to find in HE in the country: whether they went to public school or a state comprehensive, they've probably got pretty much the same A-level grades and are usually 18-19 and straight from school or a gap year. Someone from the OU, which has students of all ages, from seriously different educational backgrounds, might think you've underestimated the variety they deal with, so is there any way you could tone it down a bit? Just "diverse" instead of "highly disparate" might be better. Have you done any access work? If so, make it clear that that you appreciate the different routes into education: access courses for mature students, for example, though the OU doesn't require these.

* an appreciation of how adults learn and an appreciation of study skills.
- Balancing the demands of a M.Phil with the responsibilities of living out of college has given insight into the difficulties faced by adults who try to study while committed to families and jobs.


I think you should mention your supervising here, as a job that you were doing at the same time, to give you a stronger case. Most students at other universities have to manage living in a shared house while undertaking their studies, so you want to bring a bit more to it than that.

* the ability and willingness to promote the learning of adults through correspondence tuition, telephone and face-to-face tuition and, where appropriate, online tuition
- Am comfortable and confident about communicating via telephone, having been responsible for liasing by telephone with schools and other venues for the Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society


This is just personal preference, but I think mentioning the specific society weakens it slightly, as they're asking you for something quite specifically to do with the provision of tuition, rather than communication (which comes later). Could you perhaps put it in more general terms, in a way that suggests a connection with teaching and learning - mention a 'university organisation' or something?

Under equal opportunities, I'd recommend saying you've read the OU's equal opportunities statement, so you look proactive. It's here and will take 20 seconds! :D Also, perhaps mention not only equal treatment but the importance of equal provision - e.g., for people with disabilities.
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From:lacuna
Date:September 29th, 2005 12:00 pm (UTC)
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Oh dear, it looks like it's been sent off since I contributed my comments. Sorry!
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From:vyvyan
Date:September 29th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC)
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I think this could be over-egging the pudding a bit. Cambridge students are about as homogeneous a group as you're going to find in HE in the country: whether they went to public school or a state comprehensive, they've probably got pretty much the same A-level grades and are usually 18-19 and straight from school or a gap year. Someone from the OU, which has students of all ages, from seriously different educational backgrounds, might think you've underestimated the variety they deal with

Completely agree, this was something I noticed too when reading it (sorry, atreic, not to comment before you had to send it off, but, er, I was too busy marking OU project work!). Having taught similar subjects to Cambridge undergrads and then OU students over the last 8 or so years, I would say that the Cambridge students were so undiverse in comparison with the OU ones as to be virtually identical to each other - nearly all 19-21, from middle class backgrounds, white, Christian/atheist, RP+Standard English speaking, not disabled, high achievers from private schools or well-known state schools. About the only way in which they were more diverse was gender: almost all my OU students seem to be female (though this will be very unlikely for a 2nd or 3rd level Maths course).

This shouldn't be a problem for your application, though (they let me in, after all :-) but you might bear it in mind if you're called for interview, since they'll plausibly ask about it. Incidentally, I'd be happy to tell you about the nature of the three OU interviews I've had, if you like.
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From:atreic
Date:September 29th, 2005 01:06 pm (UTC)
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If I get an interview I'll ask what yours were like...
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From:satanicsocks
Date:September 29th, 2005 12:29 pm (UTC)
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In a meeting all morning so I totally missed this -- good luck!

As I'm unlikely to be able to supervise this year, I'm considering this too. There are also local tutoring companies if you're interested in A-level tutoring but that is definitely more of an "extra income" thing than a "job" thing IMO. (Still, mine pays for my train fare to Brighton weekly..)
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From:badasstronaut
Date:September 30th, 2005 06:10 am (UTC)

For future reference...

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I should also have said something about the difference between equal treatment and equality of opportunity (which often involves specifically different treatment). If you're doing more such applications, it might be good to get hold of a copy of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Act (SENDA) and have a look through the section on HE. In particular, note the stuff about 'anticipating needs' and 'making reasonable adjustments'. SENDA is a buzzword and if you can demonstrate familiarity with that document, it will give you an edge.

For your section on comms software, in terms of learning at a distance, you're also experienced at web-based discussion and using a weblog -- very important now for learning at a distance, especially for places like the OU which is ahead of the game when it comes to using comms technology for learning and teaching.
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From:sashajwolf
Date:September 30th, 2005 01:03 pm (UTC)
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I think it's a good application, and will be surprised if it doesn't get you an interview. If you do get one, just ask and I'll tell you how my OU interview process went!

The only thing that occurred to me is that you're likely to be asked at interview about the spent convictions bit - the OU has quite a number of students who are currently in prison. New tutors aren't assigned prisoners as students during their probationary period (which lasts for two years), but they're going to want to know that you'll be willing to teach them after that, including visiting the prison for face-to-face sessions.
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