Who is Mr. Moses?

This guy has me completely confused. By day he’s a mild-mannered School 2.0 reporter, writing posts with titles like District Technology Plan, stuff I’d tag “readlater” in del.icio.us and then forget about.

But at night he goes to war, swinging a heavy bat at scary-as-hell topics like the one TMAO intro-ed a few weeks back (paraphrased) “how do we train new urban educators?

His response, reposted in its superheroic entirety:

Right now, this very second, realize that there’s nothing going on in your teacher prep classes that is going to help you in any way shape or form once you get into a building, unless you change the paradigm. Here’s how:

Immediately start busting heads with your professors and the other pre-service teachers in your classes. Call them on their shit and be prepared to be called on yours. If you begin steeling yourself now you’ll be ready once you get into a school building and have to do the same thing with other teachers and administrators.

Next, take note of everything these classes area telling you to do and plan on doing the exact opposite. This will also help you once you get into a building. Look at what other teachers are doing, and do whatever the polar opposite is.

Make some commitments right now.

  1. You will not use the grade book as a weapon against your students. In fact you may want to commit to not using your grade book at all. You may need to keep one to fool the administration, but under no circumstances should it reflect what you report to the office at the end of a grading period.
  2. Commit, right now, to not failing a single student. No matter what. If you do this it will completely change how you work with young people.
  3. Never forget that you are there to help kids. Nothing else matters. Not even a little.

Good luck. Fight hard. Teach with a chip on your shoulder.

Add his rap- and indie-heavy last.fm profile to this blurry picture and I’m even farther from figuring this “Mr. Moses” character out. All I know for sure is I’d buy him a beer.

Mr. Moses, whoever you are, I raise a glass to you:

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. If I read between the lines of this post, you’re saying we need an educational revolution, and for that I co-sign. Good post.

  2. I like a lot of what he has to say. Indeed, there is so much in our present system that needs to be challenged, but the status quo seems to have an awful lot of inertia.

    In his third paragraph, however, the math teacher/ex-engineer (read: analytical and rather literal reader) in me has to wonder how far he really would go with this “polar opposite” notion:

    Next, take note of everything these classes area telling you to do and plan on doing the exact opposite. This will also help you once you get into a building. Look at what other teachers are doing, and do whatever the polar opposite is.

    That is, clearly there must be some things that even the most mediocre teachers are doing right; there must be some things that the professors in colleges of education are teaching right; there must be some educational theory that is on target. So I’d say that the real challenge is having the discernment to figure out what is worth keeping, and what’s worth throwing out as he suggests.

    Pragmatically, doing the polar opposite of everything that my classmates did (and professors taught) would obviously not leave me in good stead as the end of the semester approached, but that’s fairly self-serving. Doing the polar opposite of everything that my colleagues do would quite likely cause some friction, and no doubt Mr. Moses would agree that friction is a necessary part of challenging the status quo. But doing the polar opposite of everything my colleagues do also means that Rich is now reinventing everything about teaching math. And I have to consider that there are some things worth sharing from others (or why else would I be reading thing blog, for example?).

  3. Glenn is wonderful, I enjoy reading/conversing with him. He has a marvelous BS meter. I would translate Glenn this way….

    1. The students come first. Anything else is BS.

    2. When you are looking at what your program is telling you to do, what your fellow teachers are telling you to do, or what you are telling yourself to do, is it for adult convenience, or is it in the best interest of the students? If your answer is the first, you’re doing the wrong thing.

    3. Just because it’s being done that way, has always been done that way, or the state says it should be done that way doesn’t make it right. Don’t be afraid to question the dominant paradigm.

    We all could have different ways of translating these into practice. Example: Dan is more content with the content standards than Glenn, BUT this is probably (I’m inferring from his writing–feel free to disagree if I’ve misread) because he wants them to learn and be successful, so he would generally speaking, pass Glenn’s BS test.

    I’ll probably be blogging on this topic soon myself, since I’ve been reflecting on my credential program vs. my professional experience lately. I think this would be interesting to see from others.

  4. Good eye on that third graf, Rich, the only one which gave me a moment’s pause in light of my overwhelming positive ed school experience. Given the overall fever pitch of his comment, I took it in the spirit of Alice‘s second bullet point and moved along.

    Scott, Supermoses has a Technorati ranking of 29. Who do I have to bribe?

  5. I must admit, after my posting I realized that it’s never too appropriate to “respond” to someone’s thoughts on a third party blog, and I need to do some due diligence by reading his own work in situ. And Dan, I must also confess that my own ed school experience was top-notch as well (enough to make me contemplate an Ed.D. program sometime in my future).

    I don’t follow Technorati so closely to know this answer – but I see that your own rank (32,335) is way the heck higher than Mr. Moses (329,471) so that sounds favorable for YOU. But your authority (183) is not as good as his, so I don’t know the relationship between those metrics….?