Nagging at me for the longest time has been two separate-but-related remarks from RM, a student, and Jav, an inveterate sexual predator. Jav wondered why older teachers are so often useless creatures, permanently entrenched in rote methodology, cashing check after check, coasting on fixed pay increases, and grinding out thoughtless lesson after thoughtless lesson.

Separately, RM predicted in Geometry that after ten years in the job, I wouldn’t be so “chill.”

“No way you’ll still be doing ‘Fake or Legit’,” he said.

It’s kind of scary for a competent, young teacher to contemplate. As Jav suggested, maybe there’s something endemic to the system that forces good, young teachers into complacent mediocrity. IS THERE?!

At Thursday’s math conference at the county office (where I was the only high school teacher … bummer) it was just weird looking around, wondering … is that me in a few years? Unkempt? Humorless? Pregnant? Like, are these people aware that they’re trying to appeal to the single most image-conscious demographic in the world? Ain’t gonna happen while wearing a pink Gay Pride Marathon t-shirt, honey. Were these people once as conscious as I am of these things?

And how can RM be right? Why wouldn’t I throw up these fake-or-legit slides which I’ve already made? I just don’t understand the metamorphosis of a teacher.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. But shouldn’t RM *be* right? Shouldn’t it be that you do not use the exact same slides you’ve already made? Then again, since I assume you react to your classes in a way that affects your delivery of the content, even if you keep doing the same things, you’ve never doing the same things. Inertia’s a bummer.

    The comment from Jav seems more pressing to me. We work within a system where a teacher who works night and day to improve the content delivered gets paid the exact same amount as the teacher who presses “Play” each period. That (along with NCLB and state standards) is a huge failing of American public education.

  2. “Fake or Legit” is just a miscellaneous feature I trot out when the class needs a fast gust in their sails. It’s just some picture that looks almost too good to be true, which begs of them the question, “Is it fake or legit?” After voting I reveal the answer. They’re almost always right.

    There isn’t much point to reinventing this particular wheel year after year. Yet RM slapped me in the face with the accusation that in ten years, just by sticking with this job, I’ll lose whatever part of me loves the miscellany. That’s scary. I’ve gotta believe he’s wrong.

    Plus I’ve gotta say that inserting myself into the ed-blog culture where the ages are all over the place, some teachers having taught longer than I’ve been alive, where everyone is still really innovative gives me a lot of hope.

  3. Although this blog was posted over a year and a half ago, I felt compelled to respond.

    I’ve been a teacher now for 6 years, and I always wonder “When will it happen to me?” You know what I’m talking about – the complacent-ness, the just getting by day to day without any thought whatsoever about what the students are interested in. Just the other day a student made a comment about an MTV show, and I quickly responded to show that I knew what they were discussing. Was that me trying to be cool? No, but that’s what a lot of teachers would say. That was me merely letting that student know that I understand them and the shows they watch.

    I feel that I spend hours upon hours planning, and being mindful of what the students are interested in and how I can apply that to my classroom….

    Will I be as “cool” in 10 years, only time will tell…