BEAM 7 Summer Faculty Application

This summer, change the lives of underserved students with mathematical talent. Introduce students to advanced math as they take their first steps towards becoming mathematicians, scientists, and engineers.

This page contains information about working at BEAM 7, our residential program in the Hudson Valley.  We are also hiring faculty for BEAM 6, our non-residential program in New York City

Darleen teaches

More About the Program

Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM) is a five-year program for underserved New York City students with talent in mathematics. Most students begin the program in the summer after 7th grade, with a three-week, residential program on a college campus learning advanced mathematics. All of our students attend schools where at least 75% of students receive free lunch. For most of them, a program like ours would normally be completely out of reach.

We create a life-changing experience for our students. We expose them to mathematics that they've never dreamed of before. Furthermore, they'll be in a community of peers interested in mathematics for perhaps the first time in their lives. We supplement that social environment with intellectually engaging activities, field trips, guest lectures, and more. You can read more program details by exploring the rest of the BEAM site.

This is the program's seventh year, and nothing quite like BEAM exists elsewhere. The program really changes lives and serves as a model for outreach across the country, while expanding the talent pool for mathematics and related fields.

Academic Structure

Students do roughly seven hours of math per day, divided among topics courses, problem solving, and independent study.

Students choose a different topics course each week. Topics courses meet for four hours per day (only two the last day), giving 18 hours of total class time. They often cover topics in theoretical and applied mathematics such as graph theory, logic, cryptography, or astronomy. Each topics course is taught by one instructor and assisted by an undergraduate counselor. As a topics course instructor, you design the class. These classes are very exciting to design and teach! You can see last year's course descriptions here.

All students take problem solving for two hours each day. They have two choices for this block, Math Team Strategies or Solving Big Problems. Math Team Strategies is designed to help them enter the pathway towards success in mathematical contests, such as MATHCOUNTS, the AMC 8, and Math Kangaroo. The instructor is like a math team coach who introduces them to the contests and suitable problems. Solving Big Problems aims to develop skill at sustained problem solving. This class explores more abstract and proof-based problems that may require several hours or even days of thought and experimentation.

Finally, in the evening before bed, students work on self-paced modules designed to develop their understanding of math fundamentals, with an emphasis on escaping from the rote strategies they've often learned so far.

Our goal is to prepare students to enter mainstream programs for students with mathematical talent. Hence, we want to raise their ability to think abstractly, help them to see a "mathematical world" around them, and prepare them for more advanced problem solving.

About the Students

Our students are bright and motivated, but they have had very few opportunities (if any) to explore serious mathematics. Even though we are highly selective (admitting about 80 students from among 4500 eligible 7th graders), we still find that our students lack much of the preparation of more affluent peers.

For example, despite being the top students at their school, they've seen very little (if any) algebra. Worse, their perception of mathematics is very procedural. When asked to add 99 + 99 + 99 + 101 + 101 + 101, many proceed to use long addition. In general, their knowledge of fractions is weak. Although they are capable of thinking abstractly, they are not practiced at it.

Over the course of the summer, the students become stronger in mathematics and develop much more stamina and insight for solving difficult problems. They learn abstract topics that kids their age don't usually get to see. For example, students have developed for themselves a proof of the infinitude of primes, and they were able to answer subtle questions about it. They mastered binary and understood image encoding. Students from past years have enrolled and succeeded at selective high schools and their teachers report tremendous growth. We help them continue to grow after the summer program through reunions and mentoring.

Your Role

We have two types of faculty. Topics course instructors develop two different courses, each a week long, on topics such as number theory, combinatorics, graph theory, digital communications, programming, and so forth. (Last year's classes are archived here.) Each of these topics courses runs four hours per day for four days plus two hours on Saturday, for a total of 18 hours per course. (Your third week has no teaching component.) Problem solving instructors teach courses either on Math Team Strategies (such as MATHCOUNTS) or Solving Big Problems. Each problem solving instructor teaches two-hour problem solving sessions, repeating the same session twice per day, four days per week. You can see more about program academics above.

Beyond the academic component, our program has a strong emphasis on students' social and emotional development. This may be the first time that students discover that they don't have to be alone to do math. The entire staff shares in the work of turning our community into what many students refer to as family.

Being an instructor at BEAM is about much more than just teaching your classes. You will be a leader in the community and also an integral part of what makes the organization succeed. For example, topics course instructors might expect a schedule similar to this one:

TuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
8am-9amBreakfast with students
9am-10amTeach Topics Course
10am-11am
11am-12pmStaff MeetingStaff Meeting
12pm-1pmLunch with students
1pm-2pmTeach Topics Course
2pm-3pm
3pm-4pmRecord student feedback for end-of-program letters
4pm-5pmSit in on guest mathematician talk and attend relays (optional, but fun)
5pm-6pm
6pm-7pmDinner with students
7pm-8pmHelp with evening activitiesHelp sort students into next week's courses
8pm-9pm
9pm-10pmAdvise students in independent studyAdvise students in independent study
TueWedThuFriSat
8-9Breakfast with students
9-10Teach Topics Course
10-11
11-12Staff MtgStaff Mtg
12-1Lunch with students
1-2Teach Topics Course
2-3
3-4Student feedback
4-5Guest talk
5-6
6-7Dinner with students
7-8Evening activityPlan next week
8-9
9-10Advise studentsAdvise students

This is a typical topics course instructor schedule for two out of the program's three weeks. Your third week is a week off from teaching, during which you can plan other course material and get to know the students better on a personal level, for example by running activities for them. You also have the opportunity to sit in on other classes at the program. During this week, you would also be on-call for any other program needs.

Students receive no homework for topics courses, so students will spend much of the daily topics course time doing problems. What you might think of as "homework" becomes guided study in class. Your course size will be roughly 8-15 students, and you will have a dedicated TA. We do not assign grades to students, so you are not responsible for any grading. We instead write letters to students and their families describing their growth at the end of the summer.

There are a few other responsibilities of which you should be aware:

  • Before the summer: Prepare your courses. Although you will have some time once you arrive on-campus, our instructors report that having most of their material developed ahead of time is very helpful.
  • Pre-program setup: Help unpack the campus and set it up for students. Attend training.
  • Post-program take-down: Participate in discussions to shape the next year of BEAM, pack up the program, and write feedback letters to students.

The schedule for problem-solving instructors is somewhat different. If you come as a problem-solving instructor, you will teach two sections of a two-hour problem solving course each day, four days per week, for the full program. You will also help to organize either our weekly "math relays" or our "challenge problems". Feel free to get in touch for more details.

We ask a lot of our staff. The result is a remarkable professional community and a program where all students feel comfortable and have a personal connection with us. Although there is a lot to be done, we offer a great deal of flexibility about when it's done. You'll have some control over when your classes are scheduled, what activities you run with students, and when you help out. Unless we're really strapped to find someone, we fill our weekly task sign-up sheets with volunteers. If you need to take some time off, it can usually be arranged without a problem. If there is an activity that does not fit well with your preferred schedule, we can arrange some trades with other staff to accommodate your preferences.

Please note that classes run Tuesday-Saturday so that we can take field trips to popular locations on Mondays, which are often less busy. Hence, you will be called on to teach on Saturdays. If this requirement poses a problem for you for religious or cultural reasons, we can come to a reasonable arrangement although you may need to have a substitute for the last day of your course.

Zandra with students

Other Staff

In addition to the instructors, there will be eight college student residential counselors. The counselors will live with the students, run activities for them, and supervise them between courses. In addition, they act as teaching assistants for courses and assist students in the problem-solving sessions. The counseling staff will be led by the Director of Residential Life who oversees non-academic activities.

The program will also have a part-time nurse (available mornings and on-call), a part-time guidance counselor (available mornings and on-call), and a Site Director.

This is a small residential summer program, and everyone is called on to help out. Sometimes, a student you know particularly well might be having difficulties and we'll call on you to talk things over with them. Sometimes it will be your week off as a topics course instructor and we'll really need someone to watch a student while other staff aren't available. Although such supervision won't be the bulk of your time, we are looking for people who have the desire to "pitch in" with whatever comes up.

The flip side is that you will have a fundamental role in shaping the program. As much as possible, issues are discussed with the whole staff before decisions are made.

Logistics

The program runs for three weeks, from Sunday to Sunday. Students will likely be on campus from July 9 to 30. Staff are expected to arrive a few days early and leave a few days late. Before the camp we will be preparing courses and dealing with the logistics of camp setup, while after the camp we will be evaluating the outcomes and cleaning up. Hence, the full term will likely be from July 6-August 2 (we will confirm exact dates in early 2017). The program runs at two college campuses, both in upstate New York. You will be placed at one of them, and are welcome to express a preference once the two locations are announced (also, in early 2017).

Instructors either live in college dorms separate from the students or live in the same dorm as students on a separate floor.

Qualifications, Salary, and the Application

In an effort to provide entry points for people at multiple stages of their careers, we have introduced junior faculty positions in addition to our faculty positions. Teaching responsibilities are similar, but junior faculty receive additional mentoring and support. Please see below to decide what position would be most appropriate for you, and feel free to contact us with any questions. In either case, you can still apply to teach topics courses, Math Team Strategies, or Solving Big Problems.

Faculty Positions

Faculty positions are especially intended for:

  • University professors, especially those with outreach experience,
  • Middle or high school teachers with strong mathematics backgrounds and 3+ years of experience, or
  • Graduate students in mathematics or related fields who have taught in schools.

We strongly welcome applicants in applied fields as well. Computer science, astronomy, and biology have all been part of our program in the past, so long as substantial mathematical reasoning was involved in the courses.

The salary for our first-year faculty is $5000 plus room, board, and travel to/from our campus. Returning faculty receive higher salaries based on the number of summers they have attended. We hope that you will also see the program as we do: a labor of love that reaches the students most in need, and a program with the potential to have a transformative effect on achievement in mathematics and related fields.

The main part of the application is four questions to help us get a sense of your teaching background and philosophy. Most important is a course proposal where you describe what you would like to teach. Please complete the Faculty Application Form to start the application process. You may e-mail the course proposal separately.

Additionally, please send a resumé or CV to info@beammath.org. You may also include any documents you would like to attach to your application, such as sample problem sets or application questions where you would like to use mathematical symbols.

Junior Faculty Positions

Junior faculty have the same teaching load as faculty, but they receive additional mentoring from experienced BEAM instructors and attend a weekend class planning retreat before the summer. Junior faculty positions are intended for:

  • Graduate students in mathematics or related fields, especially those with outreach experience,
  • Early career middle or high school teachers with strong mathematics backgrounds and less than three years of teaching experience, or
  • Other professionals with limited teaching experience.

Typically, after one to three years with BEAM, junior faculty are invited to return as full faculty. 

The salary for our first-year junior faculty is $3300 plus room, board, and travel to/from our campus. Returning staff receive higher salaries based on the number of summers they have attended. As we said above, we hope that you will also see the program as we do: a labor of love that reaches the students most in need, and a program with the potential to have a transformative effect on achievement in mathematics and related fields.

The main goal of our application process is to help us get a sense of your teaching background and philosophy. Therefore, the most important part of the application is a lesson plan. For example, here are some topics that you could choose:

  • Proving the square root of 2 is irrational.
  • Introducing modular arithmetic.
  • Measuring the distance from Earth to Alpha Centauri.
  • Explaining while loops (in programming).
  • Solving MATHCOUNTS problems of a particular type (such as area subtraction problems, combinatorics problems, etc.).
  • Determining if it is possible to put + and - signs between the numbers 1 2 3 ... 50 so that the result comes out to 0.

Please complete the Junior Faculty Application form to start the application. You may e-mail you lesson plan separately.

Additionally, please send a resumé or CV to info@beammath.org. You may also include any documents you would like to attach to your application, such as sample problem sets or application questions where you would like to use mathematical symbols.

Karen teaches logic

Additional Notes

We welcome applications from others who think they might be a match for our program. If you're wondering if you're a good fit, please contact us (info@beammath.org) to discuss your background.

We aim to provide strong role models for our students, and that means finding an instructional faculty that shares the background of our students as much as possible. Thus, we especially encourage applicants who come from underrepresented minority groups, applicants who have faced financial hardship while pursuing their education, and/or applicants who have experience in the New York City school system. We are an equal opportunity employer, and so persons of color, women, and those with disabilities are all encouraged to apply. Showing a diversity of mathematical achievement is critical to our program's success.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Successful applicants will proceed to an interview. If you are unsure of your summer plans, we encourage you to apply early and then work out the details with us afterwards. If you need a quick decision from us, apply and let us know of your constraints.

Finally

Here are some closing words from some of our past faculty:

I can’t emphasize enough how transformative an experience this program is for the students, and how much I wished such a program existed where I grew up when I was a rising 8th grader. Teaching at [BEAM] was a great joy, and I highly recommend it as an outreach initiative to get involved in! - Mohamed Omar, Assistant Professor, Harvey Mudd College. See more of Mo's AMS blog post here (please note that Mo uses our former name "SPMPS" throughout). 

One of the highlights of my teaching career has been creating my own course on projective planes and finite geometry, and building it with the [BEAM] audience in mind. And actually teaching it to such an eager, young yet capable audience was pretty great too! - Daniel May, Assistant Professor, Black Hills State University.

Teaching at [BEAM] is all the best parts of teaching — curious, motivated, and enthusiastic students, challenging yet accessible nontraditional topics, and diverse, lively, and intellectually stimulating colleagues! - Erin Toliver

[BEAM] provides the best in being a math teacher. You make connections with great students, teach incredible content and become a member of an incredible extended "family." - Michael Pillsbury, Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District

The program is run with intelligence and care. - Larry Guth, Professor, MIT

As a high school teacher, I had a lot of fun changing gears and working with this middle school group. As a group, they were friendly, warm, and always "in the moment." But also, there was a great deal of excitement among the students, and it was contagious. They had great positive energy, making it easy for me to channel their energy in productive ways. Watching them grow, academically and socially, over the three weeks was an experience I'll never forget. - Debbie Seidell, Teacher, Horace Mann School

[BEAM] brought students and faculty very close. This program taught me that Mathematics can be a tool used to not just to explore the potential of these middle school students, but also a way to bring about equality regardless of our socio-economic backgrounds. - Jorge Perez, College of the Desert

We are always available to answer any questions you might have, so please feel free to get in touch. We look forward to working with you this summer!

Sincerely,

Ruthi Hortsch
Program Manager
ruthi@beammath.org

Daniel Zaharopol
Executive Director
danz@beammath.org

Dan's geometry class