Meme Catsup

Meme Ketchup? Meme Catch Up?

On Physical Space

Click for larger. The meme asks us to ponder our interior design. I cringed. I tried to pretend I hadn’t seen it. I’m terrible at this.

In three years I’ve taught in six classrooms. I’ve moved five times in the last four years, four of those five times to different cities. I’m untenured. I’m veritably nomadic. I scavenge for posters wherever I lay down roots. If I share a room, I pray the other teacher has set us up nicely. And then I check out Eric’s gorgeous habitat for humanity and think I really oughtta pull myself together sometime soon.

Tagging: Eric, even though he’s already been tagged. Eric, favor us with a wide angle on your classroom, okay? Something panoramic, maybe.

On Leadership

I’m a grunt. Leadership is somewhere in my future, as is the cute conviction of anyone 6’7″ or over, but for now I’ve kept to the receiving end of leadership. This puts me at a disadvantage w/r/t Christian & Rick’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Leaders tag-a-long (as does Christian’s particularly comprehensive post on the matter) but I can lay one out here. Especially for those in the unenviable position of leading those older or more experienced than they are:

Exterminate your insecurities long before we discover them.

Don’t use college-kid words like “juxtaposition” or “elucubrate” when you’re scared no one thinks you’re smart enough. Don’t issue strident sanctions when you suspect no one respects your authority. Don’t start commands with “Would you mind … ” or end them with ” … okay?” when you worry we don’t like you enough.

Far better is to think nothing of those things. Far better is to become enamored of your small duties and transparent tasks that allow us, your grunts, to become less encumbered in our own jobs. Keep your e-mails short. Start your meetings promptly and end them early. In all things, demonstrate your understanding of our jobs and their demands, even when you have to demand more of us. By your enthusiasm for your own job and by your conviction that routine, when experienced purposefully can make our lives better, you will transform even our most ritualized staff meetings into something very sacred.

Tagging: TMAO, who has never been the meme-ish sort, but who wrote a really great post on this very issue last week. Hey, TMAO, you got a sec to expand on that second-to-last paragraph there?


Run by TMAO’s place sometime soon where he breaks it down a little further.  He describes the principal as a leverage point in the system, able to affect change a few degrees above her in the district and below her with her teachers.

… the very concept of a district-wide policy would be reduced to an anachronism, because there would be quality leaders at every site, making quality decisions about how best to serve their communities, and we could all sleep easy knowing it’s just fine that those decisions will not always be identical.

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 got your tag and am not ignoring it. We’ve been out of school for three days now … wintry mix makes the back roads all kinds of slippery.

    I can’t give you a panoramic of my old classroom because it was torn down when the school was renovated. (Though students did take pieces of the old wall with the mural on it … that was a surprising indication of attachment!)

    As for the new one, it’s still in transition, but I can get some shots of how it currently looks.


  2. Hey Dan, you’re a leader, even if you’re not an administrator. Your development of and advocacy for alternative testing methods alone truly shows off the passion you have for leading in your field.