Math = Love: Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Interview Process and Video

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Interview Process and Video

Last week, I went through the day-long interview process for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. I loved having the chance to talk about my favorite teaching ideas and the process I go through to create memorable experiences for my students, but an entire day of making small talk was exhausting for this introvert.

It was great to get to meet the other eleven finalists. Everyone was super nice and supportive. As we each returned from our interviews, the rest of the finalists would cheer. Even though we are all competing against each other for the same honor, it didn't feel like that at all.

The interview process consisted of two fifteen minute individual interviews and one group interview. My first interview went SOOOO well. I got a chance to talk about what I love most: teaching. I even got a chance to teach the panel of judges how to play Slope Dude Says. At the end of the interview, one of the judges thanked me for the fun experience. At lunch, one of the judges from that group came up to me to say that I had done a great job in my interview that morning.

My second interview went well, but I didn't feel like I had the chance to really showcase who I was. The questions they threw at me were kinda controversial. I felt like I did a good job answering them, but I didn't really get to spend much time talking about what I love: teaching.

The last interview of the day was done Miss America Style. All twelve finalists were seated at the front of the room. The 19 judges were seated at desks in the Senate's Caucus Room. (The interviews were held in the Oklahoma State Capitol.) We each took turns going to the center of the room, drawing a question from a fish bowl, and answering it in a microphone in sixty to ninety seconds. The purpose of this interview was to gauge how well we would be able to answer questions thrown at us by reporters if we were teacher of the year.

After the group interview was finished, the panel of judges convened to choose a winner. Unfortunately, we don't get to find out who that winner is until September 19th. I'm so thankful to have been able to make it this far in the competition. I did my best with my interviews, and I know that the outcome of this competition is entirely in God's hands. If it is His will that I be Oklahoma's Teacher of the Year, He will make it happen. If He has something else in store for my future, He will make that happen, as well. Knowing this going in helped to take away a lot of the pressure I might have felt to try and "perform." Instead, I just decided to show up and be myself. After all, God's the one who made me exactly I am.

In addition to our interviews, the judges also had access to our portfolio which contained our resume and seven essays and a ten minute video that we had to submit. One of the judges told me that he had watched each finalist's video three times. Let's do the math. 10 minutes per video * 12 finalists * 3 times each = 6 HOURS of watching videos! That is dedication right there. When I told him that, he responded that he is a superintendent and wants to take the best ideas back to his own teachers. How awesome is that?!?

Shaun and I had to put together this video while we were in Australia with limited internet access. Even though the process of making the video was hard, I'm super proud of how it turned out. My superintendent mentioned the video at our all-district meeting on our first professional day, and lots of coworkers were interested in seeing the video. If you're interested as well, I'll post the video below. If you're reading this through RSS, you may need to click through to see the video.


Lastly, I want to say a HUGE thanks to the MTBoS. Thanks for all the support! I wouldn't be the teacher I am today without my online math teacher friends. :)


  1. I can't wait to find out. You have a worldwide following and very much deserve this. I just applied for the PAEMST for the 4th time. The first three times, I was a state finalist, and this time, I did not make it that far. I keep trying to tell myself that I truly do the best I can every day and care about helping my students better their futures. That's all I can ask of myself. You are amazing.

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing and I love your attitude about the eventual outcome. Hopefully you made solid connections with your co-candidates.
    I hope you win!

  3. Congratulations for getting this far Sarah! SO well deserved.

  4. Congratulations! We hope you win. You have fans in CA. Three of us teach 9th grade Alg/Geo and we LOVE your foldables and printables!

  5. Congratulations! I heard your NPR interview two years ago and it actually inspired me to become a math teacher. I use so many of your resources and so appreciate you sharing them!

    1. Awww... This comment made my day. So glad I could play a part in your journey towards being a math teacher!