First Day

  1. Jumping back into 100% teaching for the first time in over a year (I was 80% last year) after a summer of desk work is fatiguing. No idea how my dear old dads does it after thirtysomething years. My voice is beat. I’m beat.
  2. I realize we’re all on best behavior right now but we seem to have positive chemistry – me and each of my five classes. I can work with that.
  3. Got a kid in sixth who’s taller than me. Something like six foot ten. Freaking me out.
  4. I spaced on the order of my classes and handed a Geometry activity out to an Algebra class. Really dumb. Saved myself but things were looking awkward for a second.
  5. Back at this dumb coffee shop planning dumb lessons. I hate to let anyone tell me “I told you so” but it’s possible I won’t be reusing as much content as I thought I would. Remains to be seen.
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. Glad to hear the chemistry is good. I’m curious re #5 – why not? Is it that you aren’t happy with it? Can make it better? Doesn’t fit your current students’ needs?…

  2. Probably some combination of all of the above. I’m switching the order of instruction (starting with integer operations and evaluating, historically my students’ weakest units) and scaffolding more deliberately.

    I dunno. I’ve just finished composing a slide I’m really proud of, one which is gonna make adding w/ negatives much clearer than it’s ever been in my classes. I’m annoyed I’ll be at this until early evening PST but I really enjoy the work.

  3. A few years ago, my morning commute took me past a residential development under construction. I watched the houses go from foundation to framing to finished in a kind of real-life stop-action film. The design was both bizarre and familiar. The footprints were crammed very closely together, and the fronts of the houses were turned sideways, that is, they were facing the neighboring house, not the street.

    Finally I figured it out. They were Charleston style houses. Only I didn’t live in Charleston, SC. I lived in east Tennessee.

    When most houses in Charleston were being developed, property taxes were assessed based on the linear footage of the front of the house, defined as the side facing the street. So some brilliant planners decided to turn their houses sideways. That combined with the population per acre of an urban area created a uniquely recognizable architecture.

    But none of those constraints existed in the subdivision in question. The builder was simply co-opting a design that had proven successful in another place and another time. It proved a spectacular failure, in my book.

    I imagine that to some extent, lesson plans are similar, and must suffer through yearly redesign. What worked brilliantly one year with certain students/textbooks/teaching styles may not be right for the same teacher just one year later. Maybe that’s the source of #5.

  4. I was just getting ready to post on our first day of school as well. But yeah, it’s amazing what happens to the energy level of a building once you cram it full of kids. I’m getting ready to hit the sack.

    BTW, you’re too brilliant of a teacher to be just doing this 0.8 FTE. Next time somebody wants you to only be in their building 80% of the time, give me a jingle.

  5. Thanks for the math poster. I’ll be making up one for class. Here I was so excited using Excel to print a four page mini-poster. Life gets better every day. You have to look at the little things in life.

    I had a boy in the same height range. It always made me laugh (internally) when I had to correct him, because I’d be looking waaaay up as I talked to him. I know what you mean in #3. When an eighth grader is a couple inches taller, you just realize they’re growing. When they’re a foot or more taller in sixth grade, it’s just interesting.

  6. Yeah, yeah, trying to look at the little things. The tall things, though …

    … it’s just been such a given in my life that I’m the tallest person in the room, I’ve basically built it into my classroom management philosophy. So what a wreck I turn into when this kid who’s three inches taller than me and outweighs me by about a truck crashes through my door. Lucky for me he’s nice, good tempered, or I’d, like, actually have to start working at this class management thing.