math problems
1. There are 40 teachers on your faculty. If four are retiring (but only two of those are full-time), one is becoming an administrator, two are leaving for graduate school, two are going on parental leave (but they both swear they’re coming back!), one is returning from parental leave (but can only find child care until 1:00 pm), one is following a spouse on sabbatical to Rome (but only until Christmas), one would really like to move up to full time in math, one would really like to cut back from full time in Spanish, one is getting fired in June but doesn’t know it yet, and another threatens to quit if he has to direct one more choir concert, how many hours will you spend in search committee meetings this spring?

2. Fourth period begins in three minutes, and you realize you have yet to make copies of the day’s test. On copy number two out of twenty-six, the photocopier jams. You consult the screen, which instructs you to open the vertical conveyance unit, release lever 9A, lower tray 13, turn knobs G and H, and replace the staple cartridge.

2a. Draw a diagram of the inner workings of the photocopier, accompanied by text explaining how you will fix the jam. Number each step, and remember to title and clearly label your drawing.

2b. Challenge question: Will you get to class on time? Please provide evidence for your argument.

3. Prove: The length of the skirt you wore to school today is inversely proportional to the likelihood that you will have to squat to retrieve a dropped stack of papers, comfort a crying child, or open the vertical conveyance unit.

4. Your fourth-period class has 31 students. Twenty-two qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, eleven are housing-insecure, nine receive in-class help from a full-time instructional aide, seven are non-native English speakers, five have been suspended for the remainder of the year, four are in foster-care, and two are chronically truant. No one knows where they are. You receive a letter from your superintendent in September, informing you that 97% of your students should meet or exceed grade-level expectations in reading by June.

4a. What is 97% of 31?

4b. Please outline your plan for achieving this goal.

5. You teach 99 seventh-graders and 97 eighth-graders. It takes you six minutes to grade a seventh-grade test and nine minutes to grade an eighth-grade poster project. Assuming perfect conditions and zero interruptions, when will you ever see your spouse again? Guessing is allowed, but you will lose points for each incorrect guess. A LOT of points. Trust me.

This test is high-stakes but untimed. You have until the end of your career to check your work. Good luck.

Cate Glass is a bike-commuting queer girl who has lived on both coasts. When she is not writing, teaching, or riding in the rain, she enjoys paddling her canoe and reading entire books in one sitting. Cate is passionate about gender justice and equality in education and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest. Find her online at


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