Best Post Of The North American School Year To Date

I subscribe to eighty-something education blogs which push me several dozen posts per day and yet my reader goes these through long, arid stretches – nothing but conference session recaps, pie-in-the-sky tech idealism, policy wonks talking over each other, endless unedited malformations from people (teachers) who probably oughtta know better – where nothing manages to connect even loosely to my practice, where nothing manages to connect even loosely to my experience as a teacher.

Todd Seal’s post, No Idea, cut through all that blogospheric flotsam tonight like an arc torch and left me nodding my head, mumbling “yeah, uh huh, yeah,” at my iPhone as I waited in line for my wife to make a return at Urban Outfitters. Wherever you can find it, right?


When I close that door, I’m on my own. I’ve got fifty-three minutes with a group of thirty kids who want entertainment if they want anything. I need to take those kids wherever they are and help them improve by the time they walk out the door. I need to give them at least one new idea today and one reason to come back tomorrow.

I have no idea what I’m doing.

The stuff that makes you believe in blogs again.

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. Thank you. I hope I can make it so that the title of this post here holds true even in June. I’m going to try to keep focused on classroom practice this year. More handouts, lessons learned, practical stuff. Less dreaming, policy discussion, theoretical wanderings.

    Not so sure of that innate theory, John. If that were the case, wouldn’t I also have an innate sense of meaning and purpose, too? I’d think things would be really easy if it was innate.

  2. Todd, innate in that you are quite aware of yourself, your environment and the students. You are aware things are not easy. You are able to write about. There are teachers who are blissfully unaware of even that. Cheers, John.

  3. I’ve been following Todd for a long time now, and he always amazes me with his thoughts and perception of education. I count him in high regard, as both instrumental in teaching me to to engage a community (even if I didn’t succeed with my first endeavor), and what it truly means to reflect on your own teaching efficacy.

  4. I think that much more than they want entertainment, students want a challenge that respects their budding maturity (at the high school level). Case in point, I teach one of those “babysitting” classes. You know, the ones where you aren’t really supposed to be babysitting, but it is understood that you will be because you have _those_ kids.

    I walked in on day one and told them that this was not going to be easy. We had a short but steep scaffold up to college level work in the subject. And now I’m pulling from a college lab manual. _Those_ kids are doing the work and understanding the material. We often have to re-cement the background knowledge that they needed when walking in the door, but now that they know why they need it, it only takes one quick review to make them seek it out.

    Had I come at them with rap music infused with science lyrics, which surely would have been entertainment, I think they would probably have laughed, been eyes unglazed, but still not committed to the class or their education.

    Now they are talking about, “When I graduate,” and, “When I go to college.”

    And besides, as teachers, it is an easier job for us to educate than to entertain :)

  5. why the smoochy-smooch over, in truth, an epiphany that is obvious and on-going for any ‘good’ teacher.

    but then we’ll have to ask ourselves in a most Pirsig like fashion, what is ‘good’? and we’ll whack our heads with Sisyphean glee.

    i’m sure Todd is a good teacher. self-awareness and doubt actually are admirable qualities in this profession.