Last Drips Off The Faucet

TMAO outlines what aren’t his reasons for leaving the game, which include inadequate support, inadequate compensation, and basically anyone’s pet explanation for his attrition. He then explains:

I’m not happy unless I’m being the teacher I see in my head, but the process of finding that guy and living as him no longer makes me happy.

You all realize the only solution to this conundrum is a lobotomy, right? I don’t know how many teachers have played in the intersection of hard work and creativity for TMAO’s sustained stretch but year after year in that place, from my limited experience, the work eases up, the returns diminish, but the latter outstrips the former.

Foreshadowing from TMAO last May:

The cool thing I did to boost achievement is still a cool thing that effectively boosts achievement, but the seventh time through felt a little less cool than the sixth time, which felt a little less cool than the fifth, which felt a little less cool than… and it’s not always about me, but it has to be a little about me, too.

I hate to eulogize a writer who is obviously still writing but lemme just say that, while so many bloggers content themselves (eg.) debating and Diigo ad nauseum, TMAO has been a rare fount of professional development in my reader, a writer focused intently on the classroom, on the issues facing the classrooms which rarely receive even lip service from the most heavily trafficked blogs.

He has been the bard of the new teacher experience for three years running and, if he is finished writing as well as teaching, I have no idea where to find the same stuff on tap.


The job won’t save you.

Lester Freamon, to Jimmy McNulty, from The Wire, a show which seems like an unfortunately apt touchstone right here. The excerpted clip is NSFW but, if you click through, try to resist the connection.

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. Dan, as always, I appreciate your words. I watched the episode some time ago, three other people in the room, and that scene, that line, hit me predictably hard. Sat up straight, grabbed the remote, rewound over the serious objections of everyone there. Then I rewound again.

    My buddy looked over at me and said, “Oh shit, man. Really?”

  2. Dan –

    As a new teacher myself, and one leaving my position soon, I’ve found it really difficult to find an appropriate line about what I can blog about. I don’t feel “safe” blogging about individual students and REALLY don’t feel ok blogging about colleagues or in-school happenings. I don’t want to blog anonymously, but I think that it’s the only way that I could write my true feelings about my first year of teaching. However, blogging about diigo &, while maybe not your cup ‘o tea, is related to my job, but not potentially damaging to my career. That’s actually one of the reasons I’m striking out on my own and finding a place to fit that is more accepting of my writings.

    Just my take on it, I know every teacher and every writer has a different line :-)

  3. @TMAO, there’s a lot there, right? I mean, for lack of your introspection, McNulty’s gonna get screwed by his job but he’s savvy nonetheless and basically gets teaching exactly right.

    @Vincent, given your delivery of that awesome, season-closing line, I’m guessing your predecessors hail from Europe. I mean, contractions?!

    @Kate, I don’t want to begrudge anyone her diigo & posts. At the same time, I know there are vast swaths of readers who work with students in schools where the computing needs and, more importantly, the literacy needs require a prescription that social annotation networks are hopeless to provide.

    Teachers in literate, tech-rich schools need their bards too, I realize, but I find the supply of classroom teacher bloggers, particularly those as well-written as TMAO, in far shorter supply.

    Please, somebody, step up.

  4. A trend in my house this year: TMAO posts something. It shows up in my reader. I click over to blogger to read it. I ask my housemate if she’s read it yet. She doesn’t have a reader, and I can be obsessive about checking mine, so she hasn’t yet. She reads it. We are left in awe and discuss it at length.

    It’s not that we don’t discuss other blogs. A bunch of ya’ll edublog folks are on a first name basis our on a first name basis with us. But Dan, you’re absolutely right. TMAO, your voice is the one that has captivated us the most. Your writing feels the most real. Thanks again.

    And yeah, any other suggestions of other writers who have the same talent at finding their voice within the classroom are always welcome.

  5. Okay, I’m not getting this whole quitting thing with TMAO (and frankly, who am I that he has to explain this to?).

    He’s saying it’s not about inadequate support, but the only negative posts I’ve seen from him all year are the Good Ideas for Inhibiting School Growth posts.

    Look, you have to reach all the way back to a post last MAY to get something suggesting boredom/burnout. He is either deluding us, or was, by not sharing the incipient signs of burnout (which frankly is nbfhd) or he is deluding himself about not the lack of support, but about how seriously he was being under-minded by the want-wit that is/will-be was his admins. Is this some macho thing that tough inner-city teacher can’t admit when an admin is driving them nuts and making their working conditions unbearable? I don’t know, undoubtedly I ‘m not getting the whole picture, and frankly, he doesn’t need to share it with me, but since he made this public, I’m commenting on it. Maybe while all that was going on, he was also building up a massive case of ennui with what/how he was teaching. Only he will know, but those Good Idea posts were disturbing to me when I first read them, and the first thing that came to mind when he posted he was giving notice.