Admin v. Doctorate

Feels like I need to open up a new post every time you people come out to play ’cause the commentary is too fine to restrict it to the comments page. I’m very grateful for the advice of people who’ve already made their selection from this buffet line.

Also, naturally, I appreciate the affirmation of my current classroom position. It isn’t on account of any dissatisfaction that we’re having this conversation.

Why Quit The Classroom

There are, however, two reasons why I don’t think I’ll retire thirty years from now (or whenever they let me retire) a classroom teacher, why I’m pretty sure it can’t last much longer.

  1. One is that growin’ up will seriously affect my effectiveness, which isn’t to deny the effectiveness of a whole lotta thirtysomething (and beyond) teachers out there.

    I’m just keenly aware how much of my strength as a teacher derives from my ability to relate to student culture, to talk like they talk and dress like they dress without looking like a sneaker-wearing, slang-slinging anachronistic joke.

  2. The other reason is possibly the most tragic revelation of my short career, that in spite of good advice to find balance, to moderate the amount of time I spend on lessons, I cannot.

    I get these ideas, you know, stuff that is obviously superior to what I taught last year and, though I know the tax my body is paying in developing them, though I know that creating them until one in the a.m. is leaving me too depleted to teach them well, I can’t not. It’s not in me to not.

    I’m kinda shocked by the melodrama in what I’m typing next, but I find it completely true that what I love most about this job is what’s eventually gonna drive me away from itWorkaholicism’s always gonna be a demon I’ll have to chain and feed, but with as much foresight as I’ve got in me, I don’t think it’d be near the same problem in a job where I don’t feel obliged to entertain as much as I do in this one..

If, however, I find myself relating to my kids this well even into my twilight years (30+) and if I find the load easier to bear, there will be few jobs out there to tempt me from the classroom.

Why the Admin

  1. Without indicting any administrators I’ve worked with, either past or present, I find so much lacking in the relationship between principal-teacher and principal-student. I’d like a chance at that one.
  2. I want to make teachers’ jobs easier, make it easier for them to teach well, unfettered by the unnecessary. (Man, how many lame administrative careers were launched with that motto in mind?)
  3. I feel an instinctive facility for leadership, interpersonal communication, presentation, and design which high school freshmen only stretch so far.
  4. An admin credential would keep me closer to students than a doctorate would. (Pending correction from Dan.)
  5. It’s hard watching the best classroom blog on the ‘net slowly transform into the best administrative blog on the ‘net without wanting to put some money down on that action.

Why the Doctorate

  1. It’s where my gut — an unreliable consigliere if ever one was — is pushing me right now.
  2. I need to teach older kids, I think, kids for whom entertainment isn’t such a priority. It’s the entertainer slice that’s murdering me right now.
  3. I had a ridiculously positive teacher ed experience, one which I feel equipped to emulate.
  4. Corrections always requested, but whereas an administrative credential draws out over a fixed career arc, my impression is that a doctorate spokes off in a few more directions.
  5. I’m tempted to take my practice entirely online, hopping on the payroll of Phoenix, Capella, and anyone else who’ll have me, maintaining flex scheduling (maybe teaching 60% on the side) and a mobile lifestyle. Is that bad? That’s bad, isn’t it?

Next fall one of them’s gonna happen.

Y’all have been a lot of help so far and if any of this strikes you as particularly right, wrong, or worthy of comment, please have at it.

About 
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.

35 Comments

  1. I’m 30 and this is my third year of teaching. I began to hit some of those realizations in year 2 and even interviewed for a much higher paying corporate job which would have kept me peripherally involved in education (supporting teachers) but away from the classroom. I got turned down for the job and am thrilled it happened. The money was good, the purpose was bad.

    So where do I go from here, admin or doctorate?

    I chose doctorate for two reasons, and the next question has to be do you go EdD style or PhD style. Not to mention EdS degrees hanging around.

    I started my PhD this semester because I want to spend some real time researching to see the effect of all this technology we keep talking about in the edublogosphere. We’ve got a lot of ideas but not a lot of research to back them up. We’re banking a lot on intuition.

    As for admin, do you know why I chose against it? I would miss the kids way too much. Being in a school and not being in a classroom developing that intense teacher-student relationship would be torture. I couldn’t handle it. Now I teach a totally different crowd, 6th grade, so the entertainment slice is a bit more marked, but we have such a good time. Maybe even with a PhD I’ll hang out here.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t dress like them, talk like them, and have no idea about their TV habits (recall our lengthy discussion?) but I do know what’s in their hearts, and that surpasses that boundary. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you’ll lose your connection with them, it just changes and evolves into something even better.

    Chris

  2. This is exactly the decision I hope to be faced with in 5 years, and the question I will be asking myself is “Where can I have the greatest impact on the education of young people?” That’s the way I decided on teaching math in the first place. Though I could be perfectly happy teaching history or composition, math is where the most help is needed and so that’s where I will go.

    I have no doubt that you would perform brilliantly in both teacher ed and admin, but I think you are more needed in administration. That is where our school system is really failing and where your leadership will do the most good for the most students.

    So would you rather be a drill sergeant at boot camp or a commander in the field? I would want to be as close as possible to where the “war” is being fought.

  3. There was a similar conversation floating around the office this morning, about how one of our new administrators is totally awesome because she’d been a teacher for YEARS before starting to administer this year. She’s standing up for us, standing against the stupid stuff coming down the aqueduct from HQ. This is good.

    But, I wonder, how long will that last? Can you maintain your purity as an admin for more than a couple of years? Or do you begin to forget what it’s like for those of us who are still in the classroom, the ones who have to implement your silly decisions?

    I’ve had the same questions as you, Dan, for four of the six years I’ve been teaching. And as one who is about to hit my 30+ twilight years (I’m only 29 until November), I feel you. But I’ve decided I can be most effective in the classroom, with the kids. I don’t have the patience for a PhD program, and I found most of the people in my Master’s program insufferable, so I definitely don’t want to do a Teacher Ed thing.

    Looks like I’m where I am, metaphysically if not geographically, for the long haul.

  4. dan –

    i’ve read everything, posts & comments, so what can i add. thus, i’ve tried hard to make this a short comment. (longer version to come on my blog, i’m wrestling with exactly the same questions.)

    >>>
    you wrote, “next fall one of them’s gonna happen.”

    it’s only inevitable if you want it to be.

    i think there are more ways to find challenges while remaining a classroom teacher.

    -jp

  5. This may sound a bit odd, Dan, but I was thinking about your “dilemma” — and my current situation — quite a bit last night as I sat up at 1am rocking my 7-month-old daughter back to sleep…

    I’m not sure it’s an either/or — I know it wasn’t that way for me. Though my premature baldness belies my actual age, I earned my admin credential and became an administrator at the age of 29 finding that I could parlay much of what made me an effective teacher into being an effective administrator. Much of what you’ve said here are the ideals I had in mind when I made the move to “the dark side” as some will call it.

    One thing that’s unfortunate is that whenever an effective classroom teacher ponders leaving the teaching ranks for one of these nice, plush administrative offices, they invariably hear, “You’re such a great teacher! Why leave the classroom?”

    For me, it was as the good Dr. McLeod pointed out — the ability to affect many more students by working through and with teachers. So you’re removed a level, and sometimes you miss that teacher/student interaction, but I can assure you that there are things you can do to make sure you don’t lose touch with Joe Average high school kid when you become an administrator.

    So now I’m 32. I’m in my 4th year as an administrator and still not feeling 100% like I’m where I want to be long-term. I started my doctorate this semester at CSU and hope to eventually — some day — teach at the college level. Maybe there’ll be a couple years of being a principal in between here and there, maybe not. But I like to have options.

    Hope this helps. I’d love to chat or email with you as I think we’re probably pretty similar idealistically. Best of luck to you whatever you decide!

    — Scott

  6. Your thought process is right on track here, Dan. I’m not going to suggest you go one route or the other, just that you stay on the thinking road you’re already going down. In the end, you’ll get to where you need to be. Looking forward to hearing about what you ultimately decide.

  7. Aww, shoot. I had held out great hope for you staying in the classroom. Maybe writing a book (available for download, certainly) after another couple of years, and spending your summers and the like lecturing.

    My opinions are all from the parental/teacher training currently/doctoral program (in another field) I left after getting my master’s viewpoint, so you can discount them greatly!
    Do you really think that’s going to cut your workload? I also think that you will have a hard time dealing with the frustration of dealing with the %age of bad and mediocre and not wanting to change that teachers out there. You might be able to drive them crazy enough to at least move to another school, but there’s the chance they’ll drive you crazy first.

    I’m trying to think of the way to move your break it down into concepts and test each of those concepts alone format into administration and gosh, it gets a lot harder than it is for math.

    Teacher education needs good teachers, sure. I think you might actually be more valuable in research as someone else pointed out. Your posters and presentations would certainly be the hit of conferences. If I thought you could reform the whole of teacher training in this country, admitting only people with enormously varied interests, a love of learning, the desire to work hard, etc etc, right there you’d have accomplished a lot.

    I haven’t even read the comments from yesterday, because I was depressed at the thought that this blog, as we know it, will end. Also that yet another great classroom teacher will be gone, not just from your current school, but from the classroom. I really wish that being a teacher was the pinnacle, in prestige and $ and that you had to work your way up through academia or administration (at the beck and call of the powerful teachers) to get there. But we all know that’s not happening any time soon.

  8. Wow, I definitely should have reread that before posting. Just insert the missing words and phrases as you see fit!

  9. I’m finishing up my Ed.S. degree this year, and am already looking ahead to doctoral work. I promised my long-suffering wife I’d wait til our oldest starts K or 1st grade to do that (he’s 2 now), but I’m seriously weighing my online options.

    I’d be interested in hearing what you and others have to say about online doctoral programs. I’m all about distance learning, personally, but I fear (irrationally, I hope) that there’s a bit of a stigma there, and that too many people associate distance learning with diploma mills. I’ve looked into them, but am more concerned with how they’re perceived in the working world (i.e., will anyone hire me with a PhD or PsyD from Capella, or will I be shown the door in favor of a “real” doctor?).

    I’m begging someone to prove me wrong, as I really don’t want to have to drive over an hour each way to Philly twice a week for the nearest doctoral program in my discipline.

  10. PS – I have friends who have either completed or are in the process of completing Master’s degrees from Walden University, and have nothing but praise for their programs. Walden offers doc programs, too; may be worth a glance, if you decide to go that route.

  11. Here’s a few questions (in case you haven’t already been hit with plenty more to mull over):

    If you do a doctoral program, what would be your emphasis? Math Ed? I may not have caught it in anyone’s earlier comments yesterday or today, but would one possible route be an Ed.D. in Ed Leadership (sort of a hybrid of the administrator/doctorate options)? Here in Florida, following the Ed Leadership doctoral program is clearly a path directly into school leadership at the school level or beyond. That’s what my current boss did (moved his way up to assistant superintendent before coming to our school).

    If you commit next year to either the doctoral program or the admin. certification route, would you continue teaching while pursuing them, or would you go full-time?

    Finally, have you notified that coffee shop where you hang out so much? They may need to modify their future orders accordingly if you’re not there every night working on the next day’s slides…

  12. Thanks for a little posting inspiration.

    For the record, part of teaching is being able to act. Every day is a play, and the “young energy” you put out is just an excellent part of it. Why can’t you grow and know when to turn it on and off? I think that’s a huge part of teaching.

    As for the energy, you simply aren’t focusing on the most important aspect of teaching….what goes on in the classroom. I was a late-nighter (past midnigh) for about two and a half years. Then I had conversations with teachers that made the point that preparation is excellent, but you are no good to kids if you don’t recharge yourself. It sounds like you are burning a small hole in your spirit. It’s ok to focus on you a little more often. You seemed to indicate that you “can’t” find a better balance away from lesson planning. You will if you want to be a better teacher.

    I’ll admit, being married forced me to focus on other things. Two teachers working like crazy put many strains on our marriage in the beginning. But then we learned to give to other things (each other, ourselves), and became better for it. Sure, there will always be periods of nighttime craziness. I’m going through one right now. But don’t burn yourself out. Let the passion out a little more slowly and enjoy it.

    Oh, and in my opinion, a Doctorate doesn’t mean that a person has a clue about teaching teachers. Become an excellent Master Teacher. That’s where the REAL learning comes from.

  13. I’m halfway through my principal certification and plan to start my doctorate in February (mostly because my husband wants to start then, and I’d rather work on it with someone). Here’s my take on your problem: (a little story) I was a cheerleader coach for 10 years at the high school level (thank you; I accept your sympathy). When I was in the middle of a pep rally and thought to myself that I didn’t want to be there, I figured I needed to get out. My last couple years of teaching I got the itch to do something beyond my 4 walls. I was involved in a committee that worked to make campus-wide changes. I started dreading grading and standardized tests (I taught English). I came to the realization that, if I was thinking of moving on, I probably should. (Kind of like, if you are thinking about breaking up with someone, you probably should.) I’m working as a grant coordinator and have had the opportunity to do some admin stuff. What I miss are the kids. Doesn’t it always come down to that? So I’m going back to a campus. While I won’t be in the classroom teaching, I can be still making a difference in the lives of students. And maybe in a much more meaningful way other than: “Do you know the difference between a noun and verb?” I think I was good at connecting with students, especially at-risk ones, but what about all the teachers who aren’t good at that? Who do those kids get? Hopefully they’ll get me. I’ve left the classroom, but I haven’t left kids. I might be idealistic, but I am determined to make time for what’s most important: not discipline, not administrivia, not paperwork, but real life kids with real life needs. I can’t wait to be an administrator! (Then get my doctorate so I can wear the funny velvet hat and people can call me “Doc.”)

  14. Get a Ph.D in math ed, taking annual breaks to teach summer school (kids that really need some help at catching up). Then start your own math ed materials company while teaching 60% percent and spending summers selling the stuff and inspiring teachers/teaching preservice classes – keeping profits at a level that cover a decent salary plus production costs, but no more. Staying in the classroom part time will maintain your credibility with the regular teachers while inspiring more ideas for materials and activities

    As for leading teachers, you’re getting something of a following through your blog. You really want to boss around those who aren’t interested anyway?

    You did ask for opinions :D

  15. I mean, sure, there are lots of materials and resources out there, stowed away in dusty crates in math dep’t storage rooms. What would be nice would be some source of weekly downloadable stuff that is immediately applicable, available for some moderate fee or something. Your blog has a bit of this function already – it triggers ideas like a crate of Big Publisher materials just doesn’t do.

  16. Maybe this is another option, but with your creative ideas, how about moving into curriculum? Many larger school districts have curriculum specialists that work with specific grades/subjects. We have one that works 9-12 in math that acts as our administrative liasion as well as our curriculum resource teacher.

    I do know what you mean, I’m one of those *twilight* teachers (31), but I really feel that working with kids keeps me young. I’m in a 10-12 school, teaching Geometry and AP Statistics and I love what I do, but I easily put in 70 hours a week. I clocked myself this weekend and put in 27 hours from Friday when I got home (6pm) until Sunday night (11pm). It does wear on you eventually. This is year 10 for me and I’m still able to manage, but I don’t have children either. Hubby has his own interests that keeps him out of my hair (hehe). I recover during the summer by doing absolutely nothing in June except reading novels and taking lots of naps. Towards mid-July I start getting into the “school-mode” idea and dabble here and there getting things prepped.

    Anyway, the moral of the story is that I emphasize with you and I hope you are happy with whatever decision you make.

  17. So here is the thing… you’re four years into a job that says you’ll quit by next year (according to the statistics widely reported), if you’re average, and by everything that I have read you are anything but average. Going into admin or a doctoral program with the hope of teaching teachers will fall short for a few reasons that you have already mentioned. You self identify as an over achiever, what about changing focus to admin or a doctoral program will alter that part of you.

    If you are craving a new sort of challenge that is one thing, but that is not what I sensed from the writing you have done in the past few days. Burn out will happen when you allow those things that are meaningful to your life outside the classroom suffer for the classroom. Other people have said it, but it takes balance. I tell every student teacher that rolls through my classroom to identify what it is that makes them sane/happy/fulfilled and schedule it everyday like a meeting that cannot be missed. 5 days out of 7 I am hiking in and around a mountain for that very reason. When I am having a tough week I usually realize that I have neglected that part of my life. After 10 years in the game, I still empty myself out into the job, but it’s okay to have a self outside those four classroom walls and those 180+ days.

    If you want something new, want it for the right reasons.. otherwise you will just find yourself having the same conversation with yourself on down the road.

  18. I threw “get a doctorate” on my to-do list today. It towers awkwardly alongside petty nonsense like “buy wedding present for ali” and “d/l kanye mixtape.”

    I’ll stay in the classroom during the program. I can’t see leaving, both for reasons of financial stability and because the grind is still a lot of fun. Maybe by the point I finish my dissertation I’ll have learned to balance things out, to maintain this relevance in spite of my advancing years, in which case, on paper, I’ll be one of the most overqualified remedial high school algebra teachers in the nation. And I’d be fine with that.

    The idea of administration just hasn’t set right with me in the past few days. Jeff proffers the awfully cynical suggestion that you can’t maintain your purity, your connection to the classroom grinder, over the long haul, and I think maybe he’s right.

    Coach Brown has my number also, I think. This thing, my totally inability to modulate my off-contract hours, at first glance looks like good teaching. It results in a lot of good lessons, a lot of good seat-hours for my kids, but my inability to settle (or unwillingness, hell if I know) on what is good at the expense of what is better is possibly my worst trait as an educator. There is little to be admired in this.

    Damian, re the legitimacy of online degrees, here’s a relevant, if not impartial, survey.

    Much obliged to H., Diana, and all the rest for asking the tough questions. I dunno if I’ll confront the same issues of overachievement in administration or university. I’ve held other jobs, though, job which didn’t grip me as tightly as teaching does, jobs which carried a greater margin for error than mine does now. I’m not into short-term solutions, though, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

  19. Right there with ya.

    1) Ph.D.
    2) Admin job
    3) Think tank/ non-profit like the one from previous summers or the ones I’ve conferenced for
    4) Cowboy up for year seven

    A thought to go with the others. You came up for our gig last summer for a workshop. You may want to look into working all summer in that, or a similar programmatic setting. It’s a nice intro to the working with teachers/ working with adults component. It also gets you thinking about things like: “Do I really want to keep explaining the importance of procedures for the next n years?”

    (Admin blog? I’ve got an admin blog now? Maybe that’s why you can no longer access my blog through the District server.)

  20. Dan,

    I’m currently in my sixth year of teaching middle school math. I chose middle school because I wanted to reach kids earlier. I taught high schoolers for a few years and was frustrated that their ideas about math were already so ingrained.

    About two years in to my current position, I started feeling the itch you describe.

    I love the planning. I love the research. I love coming up with new ideas and testing them out in my classroom. I love sharing ideas with teachers. I’ve been told I’m a natural leader in education and have been asked several times if I’m planning to move into admin.

    I share this with you only because I’ve had a few more years to see what it’s really like.

    At this time next year, I will more than likely be a math coach in my K-8 school and thinking about starting to get my doctorate in Math Ed.

    I’ll still be working with kids (hopefully co-teaching various units), but my primary job will be the research and design. I’ll be working toward changing the way math is taught in my entire school.

    From what I’ve read on your blog, it seems like this would be a good choice for you as well. Go into the curriculum side of administration where your greatest strengths and joys will become your main job. Plus, usually those folks are also encouraged to present and publish. I really think you would love it.

    There is plenty of need for innovative thinkers like you. And then you could change a lot of classrooms.

  21. Thanks for the career advice. I admit I’m a little hazy on all the doctoral options available. Leastwise now I’ll know to look into curriculum design.

  22. Your age has nothing to do with your ability to relate to students. We have an algebra teacher who has been at our school for over 30 years and is beloved by everyone- especially his students. Where can you have the most impact? In the classroom. Don’t become another refugee from the classroom. We need teachers willing to stay long term in students’ lives. Administration? Maybe if I was only interested in money and trying to rationalize it some other reason to leave teaching.
    I have been teaching 5 years and spend more and more time every year planning. Why? Because the more you teach, the more you realize what you have to do to truly be effective and thorough. You keep building on your previous knowledge and experience. Teaching is a craft.

  23. Nah nah, maybe your age has nothing to do with your ability to relate to your students but my age has a lot to do with my ability to relate to my students. That’s to my discredit, by the way. That is not good.

    I’m young-looking, if not still young, irreverent of the learning institution and funny. I’m the closest teacher most of them have to a peer.

    But I realize students don’t want a peer for a teacher. That gets messy. Their interests ultimately conflict with their “buddy’s” and when the disciplinary hammer inevitably comes down, both sides feel a bit betrayed.

    So I’m strict. Fair. I have high expectations. But whenever I’m not setting and maintaining those, I keep a relaxed posture.

    The class management niche I’ve carved out, tucked into, and seen a lot of success with recently, exists at the intersection of peer and teacher.

    I’m not gonna go anywhere near saying “I’m represent the best of both worlds.” I don’t believe that nor do I believe that mine is the only the way to manage a class.

    But I will say that a lot of my peer-level qualities are gonna decrease as my age increases. It’s possible I’ll adapt but lately — as evidenced by this whole series — I’ve found that very difficult.

  24. Sorry, Ellen, but I take offense at your suggestion that people go into administration for money. Have you seen the amount of time adminstration spends outside of the regular class day working? (Not to mention what they have to deal with during the day.) My husband was a high school assistant principal and typically spent 3-4 nights a weeks at some function. As with teaching, money doesn’t convince you to do it. It’s what you want to accomplish. I admire teachers who stay in the classroom (as long as they don’t pull out the same lesson year after year). But we need creative teachers to become creative administrators. Teachers complain all the time about administration. Don’t you think they’d want someone there who gets it? We shouldn’t dis anyone because of the path they choose (where their heart is). We need enthused people at every level to make the system work. So, Dan, go where your heart leads you.

  25. Wrong. We don’t need any more administrators. We are hemorraging good teachers. We have 8 administrators at our school at any one time and usually only 1 who is competent at any given time. The rest are just refugees from the classroom. And yes, most go into it to either:

    1) Make more money which you can’t blame them for due to the cost of living
    In our district, administrators get about 8 weeks vacation and make anywhere from 80,000 to 120 thousand per year.
    2) To get away from the classroom because they were not successful teachers. Many of our administrators just had a couple of years in the classroom which is not enough to even know what good teaching is.

    Don’t become a refugee from the classroom.

  26. Age actually provides you with more insight and more wisdom to deal with students. They appreciate the work you put into teaching and they appreciate that you STAY as they see the rotating door of teachers constantly coming and going.
    They will notice all you do for them and let you know that. Actually we had one administrator at our school who taught one class as well as administrating. Maybe you could do that as well.

  27. Ellen,

    Some of us went into admin because we saw it as a chance to make a bigger difference. I miss teaching (and coaching) every day, but I was also lucky enough to work in a school for a decade with amazing administrators who created an environment where we could all teach. For me, after eight years of teaching, my mentors told me it was time to think about administration. I went to get my admin cert, and then I got the chance to start SLA. Now, I think my job is to try to create a culture where teaching and learning is deeply valued. I try to repay the gift that my admins gave to me.

    If Dan felt that he could create a culture that allowed teachers to make a powerful difference in kids’ lives, then that’d be a great reason to go into administration.

  28. Your right. That would be a great reason to go into administration. But with the current culture of NCLB it is difficult but hopefully the tide will turn as now upper income schools are starting to make some noise about this flawed law. So good luck and remember the job of an administrator is to make the job of teaching easier not harder. It is to create an environment where teachers can do their jobs.

  29. Jeff proffers the awfully cynical suggestion that you can’t maintain your purity, your connection to the classroom grinder, over the long haul, and I think maybe he’s right.

    Yeah, that IS awfully cynical, isn’t it? Especially now that I’m in day three of four days off (sometimes it’s good to be a Yid).

    I will say this, though–it seems like this thinking things through deal has helped you realized something:

    This thing, my totally inability to modulate my off-contract hours, at first glance looks like good teaching. It results in a lot of good lessons, a lot of good seat-hours for my kids

    Whatever you wind up doing in ed (and I think that the people who are calling for you to do workshops and hit the lecture trail over the summer are inadvertently adding to this) you need to through in more Dan Time. Because you are damn good, if your blog is to be believed, but you’re going to burn yourself out before long if you keep all this up. Find what you love–and if it’s staying in the classroom, I offer you a transcontinental high-five–and do it, carve out your space, but don’t become it.

  30. I have been reading these comments over several days, and am left shaking my head. Why can’t you manage your effort/energy better? It’s a little problem.

    Turn, for a moment, to what you publish here. The production quality of the slides and movies? Wow. Clearly it’s your strength. You know how to grab someone’s attention, and hold it. You know how to draw them in.

    Why not choose an option where you play to your greatest strength? Can you cash in on your sense of presentation, on your construction of moving and still images?

    (A second option: we don’t really know much about your math. It could be that you are looking to do some weird stuff in differential geometry or group theory… If you are good enough to do that stuff, more power to you)

    On the admin side, not being able to adjust would be a pretty strong demerit. Homework, testing, and now pacing yourself. As far as curriculum, the materials, from a pedagogical view, that you’ve been sharing, have been good. But enough to make that a career choice? I don’t know. For me it’s the quality of the visual product that is always memorable on your blog.

    And, of course, you could choose to try to adjust your teaching. Not everyone can, but can you expend the kind of energy on pacing yourself that you do on your slides? (how much energy can you devote to budgeting your energy.. I’m losing it)

  31. “The class management niche I’ve carved out, tucked into, and seen a lot of success with recently, exists at the intersection of peer and teacher.”

    I’m 37 and believe that even at this age I still have a similar classroom management style to what you’ve described, Dan.

    Maybe I don’t know ALL of the new songs, bands, words, movies like I did in my 20s … but I know a few. (And hey, kids are often into “old school” stuff, too. Classic music, movies, style never really goes away. Think AC/DC or Starwars – old, but still relevant to a lot of kids.)

    In addition, as adults, we all have co-workers and peers who can be 10, 20 30+ years older than us. Still peers. Still someone to learn from. High school students will soon be in college classes or work situations with similar adult “peer” relationships – it’s not such a jump to have a similar relationship in high school with an “old” teacher, too.

    Either choice is good, and whatever you decide, I hope you keep writing about it.
    Thanks!

    Amy Hendrickson, Co-director and Teacher*
    East Range Academy of Technology & Science
    MN Public Charter School #4166
    (* Truly, the best of both worlds is always possible, too!)

  32. You’ve written about creativity within constraints before, about how specifying boundaries within which a task must be performed may actually sharpen focus and unleash originality. Not so for the constraint of finite time? Any practical way of enforcing time constraints different from the opening hours of that coffee shop, and see what direction your work would take under such conditions?