Diminishing Returns

Seems the unofficial meme on my blogroll nowadays is Just what would you do for a little more energy? I’m seeing Hail Marys, white flags, and white knuckles everywhere. Here’s mine.

The same results are less exhilarating. Powerful first-semester tricks carry only a fraction of their potency now in the last month of the second. The energy necessary to engage my kids has doubled while my sleep schedule shrinks inversely. Factors are conspiring pretty well against the teacher right now.

So there are the mental stonewalling exercises, the eviction of un-positive thoughts, the conscious elevation of enthusiasm to nigh cheesy levels. There’s vigilance. Lightning must be caught now. What used to be a luxury is now essential.

So I keep my eyes open, fixed open, looking for math anywhere outside our textbook, outside the same openers and lectures and worksheets we’ve been running for nearly 180 days now. The second an idea or strategy occurs to me I write it down or hit speed dial 3 and have Jott e-mail it to me. I can’t risk forgetting anything fun at this point.

Eyes open. Even during The Office last Thursday, eyes open.

Like during the cold open, when Dwight hands Jim a demerit. Jim knows Dwight is just posturing and presses him on the details. In all his usual unctuousness, Dwight says (paraphrased and compressed):

You do not want to receive three of those. Three demerits and you’ll receive a citation. Five citations and you’re looking at a violation. Four of those and you’ll receive a verbal warning. Keep it up and you’re looking at a written warning. Two of those … that’ll land you in a world of hurt … in the form of a disciplinary review written up by me and placed on the desk of my immediate superior.

So I played the clip and gave today’s lead-off question: “If Jim is late once a week, how long until he receives that disciplinary review?” I realize it isn’t much but I’m just sucking for air, trying to catch a couple of good breaks per period per day, and realizing it’s far easier blogged about than done.

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. I’m a latecomer to The Office, but I was rolling on the floor laughing, as they say, when I saw that opening segment last week. And I, too, thought of just how many demerits would add up to that disciplinary hearing (much less a disadjulation!!!!!!).

    [Why the heck do they run that show during such odd times? I don’t know about you Pacific Daylight Timers, but here in the east it ran from like 8:42 until 9:17, which wasn’t even exactly a half hour block!]

  2. Thanks for a great presentation at Asilomar.

    The link for the clip no longer goes to that clip from The Office. ANy good ideas about how to search for it? I searched YouTube in vain…