Back On The Mainland

Well, that was awkward.

To set it straight, I was blogging back when blogs were written on paper and called “journals” (it’s an old-person thing – don’t worry about it) and maintained a pretty detailed record of that spectacular admixture of ignorance and hubris called “student teaching.” Those posts were a copied-and-pasted time capsule from five years ago, from a very different timeAnd if those were the posts I included, imagine the horrific self-incriminating garbage I left out. Please stop imagining now..

So. As much as I appreciated returning home to all the well-wishes and encouragement and assurances that, if I only stuck it out, teaching would get better … um … well I can’t even begin to phrase a response. “Thanks,” maybe. With one eyebrow upraised.

And as much as I’m glad that dude’s stint here is over and as much as I want to totally disavow his technique, attitude, and face, he and his commenters raised some worthy issues:

On Young v. Old

In response to 21-yo Dan’s blatant aversion to age & experience, Laelia (nee Nancy Sharoff) responds with some ageism of her own:

Oh honey, one might refer to your post as the result of the ‘innocence of youth’, however, in your case we might need to adjust that phrase to the ‘ignorance of youth’. FYI – I’m more than twice your age. We too face a dilema – that of how to deal w/ those still wet behind the ears, those that trip over their own feet, those who believe that the ‘truth’ resides only within them, those who have not learned the lessons that history has taught (that what goes around, comes around), oh wait….I must be talking about some of my peers – those 20-somethings.

She seems to have missed the mark with her nine-month prediction of my retirement (sigh … see first paragraph) but her comment (and my dumb, younger cousin’s post) points out the awkwardness of 60-yos and 20-yos working side-by-side under equal rank. Can another job claim that kind of weirdness? What do we do with thatOld people, be the teachers you want young people to become. Young people, give ’em a second look. (But not a third.)?

On Being Cool

Though my attempts to convert social currency into learning outcomes died a strange death several years ago, they morphed into something best described by TheInfamousJ’s comment:

My students respect my personality and I respect theirs.


I discovered that the best thing is not being cool, but asking them to teach you how to be “with it”. If you mean it, it shows them the kind of respect that you want them to give you … and they do (although sometimes with ‘kids these days’ you don’t recognize it as the respect you are used to seeing).

I’d add detached, dispassionate discipline to his confident, sincerely-interested teacher, all of which, taken as a sum, seems kinda … well … cool? … no no NO … I will not go down this path again.

On The Whole Thing

Thanks, everyone, for not asking the obvious question: what kind of self-obsessed loser guestblogs for himself?

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. Ahhh… Got it. Being new to your blog, I thought you had a guest blogger with your same first name. Ha!

    Well, so glad you stuck it out. :)

  2. Welcome back! I’m fighting the urge to act like my students and pester you with questions about your trip.

    And ah, the pen-and-paper journal. I’m pretty sure that even excerpts of mine will not be shared in the future. You’re a brave man to face that writing.

  3. Like Sarah, I’m wondering what you’ve been up to in the meanwhile. Where did you dispose of ideas generated when you weren’t writing for us? Or did you take a break from thinking? We want to know.

  4. I mean, much of my trip was spent in a hammock or on a beach. What little mental energy I could fit in my carry-on bag I spent outlining a presentation called “PowerPoint: Do No Harm” and trying to get dy/av off the ground for the umpteenth time.