Math Teacher Recommendation Concern

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Harleyboys98, Apr 26, 2018.

  1. Harleyboys98

    Harleyboys98 Member

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    As my junior year winds down, I would like to get a head start on my application for the NA. I’m currently enrolled in trigonometry/pre-calculus with 4 weeks of school to go. I reached out to my math teacher seeking a letter of recommendation and she said she’d be happy to write me one.

    Here’s the problem.... I opted for the online version of this class instead of the standard brick and mortar classroom version. A big misconception these days is online classes are an easy way to get your education in. But that is certainly not true as it takes the same amount of work/time whether a course is completed online vs. in the classroom. Long story short, I opted for the online version of trig/pre-calc because it allowed me the flexibility to learn in my own time and space.

    When it comes to online classes, the teacher is only there to grade assignments and assist students when necessary. From reading the forums, people say to have teachers write about the student’s integrity and leadership skills within the classroom. Obviously this doesn’t allow with my current situation. Has anyone been in this situation before? I feel like homeschoolers face this predicament. Should I reach out to my teacher and request a recommendation that covers certain characteristics of my choosing? Thanks for the help!
     
  2. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Moderator

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    I would make an appointment with this teacher and do the following:
    • Present the reasons you chose to take the class online. (she will understand and appreciate this).
    • explain your goal of serving the country, bring her a brochure of the Naval Academy.
    • Hand her a copy of your resume or other summary of your accomplishments, so she can get a perception of your "whole personality."
    • Ask her if she has any questions about your goals and your background and answer them like in a job interview.
    Dollars to donuts, she will write you a great LOR.
     
  3. THParent

    THParent Member

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    I don't know, it does seem like a rather odd case to me.

    She has met you before though, right?
    Is this something as simple as going to another teacher that you have a class with, and getting the two of them together on what it's like having you in class? Maybe a meeting where the three of you sit down together and talk about it?

    The Math teacher recommendation (I think) is done online (because USNA will ask for you Math teacher's EMail address) so I am not sure
    of how in-depth she can go about the fact that you take the class online, but she "has talked with others about what it's like to have you in class".
     
  4. Harleyboys98

    Harleyboys98 Member

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    This teacher happens to be a full time virtual teacher. She teaches 6 different levels of math to 7 different schools within my school district. I think the best way to approach this would be to set up a meeting with her face to face. The closest we got to meeting was a phone call for her to check in on my progress. Being a virtual class, what specific things should I ask her to highlight in the recommendation?

    Another one of my concerns. Should I ask her to mention whether it was an online class or not? Would it be problematic if the NA saw that I took an online class in a big public school?
     
  5. THParent

    THParent Member

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    I don't know if USNA would have a problem with it being an online class.
    They will be certainly interested in what your Math grades (including all your other grades) are, though!

    @AROTC-dad I think, gave you an even better piece of advice than I did.
    She may know nothing about Service Academies and what it takes to get an Offer of Appointment.
    Bringing her up to speed on what the Navy wants from you and in turn what it is going to do for you, may be an educational experience for her.

    Telling her what got you to the point you are now, and what drives you to be an Officer in the future will be a good way to acquaint her with how important this recommendation is to you.
     
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  6. Devil Doc

    Devil Doc Teufel Doc

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    I write several LORs every year and there is always something to say about a student's integrity and leadership traits. I write not only about what I observe in my classroom but comment on the student's extracurricular activities. Are you in clubs, play sports, do band? Volunteer work? Shift leader at a paid job. Have you organized a fund raiser? How about an internship or job shadow? I was an application reader last year for the National Honor Society and the resumes on the candidates were full of this stuff. Does your online class have discussion boards? Your teacher could comment on how you take the lead in discussions,etc.
     
  7. Harleyboys98

    Harleyboys98 Member

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    That’s great advice! Much appreciated!
     
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  8. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    I suggest you contact Admissions once the system opens for 2023. USNA asks for a math teacher rec with the assumption that this teacher knows you well. Yours definitely doesn’t know you as well as one who sees you in person every day. It may be that USNA will ask for a different teacher rec. I don’t know. But I suggest you check as your case is unusual but probably not unique.
     
  9. GHTeam

    GHTeam Member

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    I agree completely with this advice. Anyone that is writing on your behalf should know you well. You should contact Admissions; I’m sure this is not the first time this question has been asked. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to connect with your Admissions Counselor.

    Best wishes!
     
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  10. CrewDad

    CrewDad Member

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    Harleyboys98. You got some great advise here to your post.

    I would like to add that online courses are actually harder to do. Why, because it requires you to do all the work with no direct lecture and interaction with your teacher on a daily basis. Online classes require you to be more mature and better time Manager. And demands you to go extra miles to do research outside given text book to learn well.

    My son took online STEM classes. He took Precalculus in parallel with his Algebra 2 in his Sophomore year. His school did not allow him to take them in parallel so he took it online. He also took AP Calculus and Physics Online in his Junior Year. And took Latin online because his school did not offer it. He pulled 96, 96, 97, 97 respectively. It was no cake walk for sure to maintain strong grades. He often challenged the online answers and teacher’s comments on AP Cal, Physics, Precalculus and Latin. He found online answers to be wrong sometimes and had the school reverse his grades for credit and changed the school online answers. This happened at least 10 times in AP Cal and few times in Physics.

    He later got great recommendations from AP Cal and Physics teachers. They liked him as a student because he politely challenged answers and got them corrected. Teachers also learned that their curriculum were not always well written. Of course teachers were using school curriculum so they were learning together.

    So online classes does require higher level of vigilance. And to be spot on.

    His teacher gave him Q&A to fill in which they used to write him a customized and more specific recommendation. Some teachers asked for his resume so they can also add to his overall qualities as well as specific strengths.
     
  11. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    That would indicate you have no or minimal actual interaction with the teacher and the course is largely self-taught. USNA wants recommendations from specific instructors who interact in person with you frequently and can actually comment on your skills/ability/interaction with peers etc..

    I agree as this implies a unique situation that admissions needs to be aware of so they can suggest how to proceed.
     
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  12. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    Keep in mind , the Teacher input to USNA is really an "evaluation" rather than a "recommendation". I have never seen the actual form, as it is emailed directly to the teacher, but it is my understanding that the teacher is evaluating your academic aptitude as well as demeanor and classroom leadership. An "on line teacher" isn't going to be able to do this.

    This one is an outlying situation, but suspect that Admissions has encountered it before. Concur with all the recommendations that you contact Admissions directly when CGIS opens -- that should probably be within the next few weeks.
     
  13. CrewDad

    CrewDad Member

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  14. mcfamilyof4

    mcfamilyof4 Member

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    how about your 10th grade match teacher? or your 12th grade match teacher? possibly your senior year teacher can write a recommendation by September ish time frame?
     
  15. usna1985

    usna1985 10-Year Member

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    There are many possible alternatives, but it's important to follow the one that USNA wants, which is why the OP should ask them.
     
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  16. Harleyboys98

    Harleyboys98 Member

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    I just wanted to update everyone with where I stand. I was approved by USNA as an official candidate for the class of ‘23. Before I reach out to admissions about my predicament, I had a thought.

    So it is to my understanding that the teacher evaluations are more of questions rather than a letter. I happened to sit down with the teacher, discussed my resume, and she got to know me better. Is it possible to proceed with the teacher evaluation if she doesn’t mention that she’s an online teacher in the evaluation itself? As an Eagle Scout, I’m taught to live my life following the scout law: A Scout is trustworthy. But technically if it doesn’t ask, my teacher doesn’t need to offer up the information of her being a virtual teacher. Right? Regardless I will call admissions as needed..
     
  17. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    If they don't ask the question, then she doesn't need to provide an answer. If they do ask the question, then she does. There is no need to volunteer extra information. This is true with any set of questions and applications.

    EDIT: There is no need to worry about this or make a big deal of it. If you have questions then call the academy. They've seen it all and know how to handle things. I would say that's true of the whole application process. More kids get up tight and stressed when they didn't need to. Do your research before you call, but if you need to - call.
     
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  18. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    Suggestions on the action you should take regarding contacting admissions due to a unique situation have already been provided. Now it sounds like you want to be evasive and HOPE the teacher doesn't make a comment in their evaluation like..............."....this was an online course and I never interacted in person with this student".

    Meeting one time with a teacher is probably not what USNA expects of these evaluations.
     
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  19. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    This the guidance to the teacher:

    https://www.usna.edu/Admissions/Teacher-Rec-Instructions.php

    Your teacher will likely have to put N/A for certain elements. There will be challenges in evaluating you against your peers for character and integrity.

    There’s nothing wrong or bad about any of this. Your teacher will comment on what she can, presumably your academic ability and potential to succeed in college courses. If you have a well-rounded application, your other traits will become apparent.
     
  20. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    I think you answer the question by inclusion of the word "technically.." During Plebe Summer, every Plebe learns the meaning of the word "sea lawyer.." Yes , you are technically right, and it wouldn't hurt the evaluation if the Math teacher answered the questionaire truthfully , but I would not consider this living up to the Scout Law meaning of Trustworthy, or the USNA Honor Concept. If the teacher were to submit an evaluation without full disclosure that he /she only met you once, I would consider that a material omission of fact. Is it a "technical" violation ? Maybe not, but I would suspect that discovery of the fact would result in a negative impression of you, and the teacher.

    As others, and I, have recommended..call Admissions and talk it over with the Admission counselor.. I suspect they have encountered this issue before. Also, as CAPT MJ suggests, I don't think that it is a negative factor at all. In fact, I could argue that the fact that you could take a course like pre-Calc online is a positive...particularly if you did well. You didn't explain why you took the course online vs. bricks and mortar, but where I am from, with a lot of rural schools that simply don't have the resources to to run advanced courses for that one exceptional student, taking advantages of opportunities like online classes would be a positive.