“We are the salt on the slugs of innovation.”

TMAO is the Alfred Hitchcock of the Edublog Awards. Whatever your take on his pedagogy or policy, dude’s undeniably the best writer on the edubloc. ¶ His post, The Ledge, surfaced the merit pay issue (as someone must every two or three months) and now he’s written Rules for the Voyage: Merit Pay to contend with criticism. ¶ Pull quote: “In education circles, especially those composed of teachers, we routinely murder the Good in the name of the Perfect. Whether in terms of classroom practices, school structure and function, or large scale systematic improvements and alterations, if an idea or proposal fails to repel any hypothetical hurled its way, said proposal is immediately dismissed and chests are thumped accordingly.” ¶ TMAO, man, I’m taking your book on vacation. Gonna see if you do to the Florida punk scene what your blog does to inner-city education. Respect.

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 just read that post last night as well.

    my one added thought: it will take ongoing observation and massaging of metrics and feedback (i.e. rewards).

    i base this on my own situation. i teach the select remedial 8th graders in a very very low performing area (even if you’re not from this city, you may have heard of the high school we feed into because it’s such a target of “reform”). i’m a good teacher – i’m teaching these kids because i want to, and the number of “oh, i get this now” moments this year has been great.

    but their test scores still suck. they’ve got language issues. they have home issues. they have issues that, if i were a hero teacher willing to work over 100 hours a week, i might be able to edge away at. but if the merit system goes into effect, i’m going to take up that offer to teach the gifted classes. our gifted kids still test low, below the proficient threshold, and i know i could both make a difference *and* max out my rewards with them.

    i’m not sure getting good teachers to abandon the students who need the most help is going to be the actual plan.

    i say this reluctantly, because i agree that we’ll murder the good in search of the perfect, and i don’t want to do that. i just think we need to build in a way to get better once we get started.

  2. I guess I would hope that, in your case, working hard with low low low kids, seeing only incremental quantitative progress, your administrator would reward you on the qualitative side.

  3. probably, since that administrator has also already offered me the gifted option. however, i’ve worked for four different administrators in four years of teaching, and for half of them i’d really hate to have to rely on them for any kind of acknowledgement or bonus.

    which is still not a reason to stop (or not start).

    it just means that you need to adapt the plan as you go.