Tying Loose Ends

My Week, More Or Less, In Washington, D.C.

Cable In The Classroom’s Leaders in Learning Awards was an event which saw me initially in my default, slouched, slacker-kid-among-grownups posture. By the end of the week, though, I was dry for snarky Tweets, far too awed by a) my first trip to my country’s capital, b) the people – CEOs, senators, congresspeople, incredible educators, among them – I met there, and c) the ceremony itself.

I’ll leave it at that. Plus a Flickr album and two videos if you’re really inclined.

Next Year’s New Job

Which, as it happens, is the old job. What a mess, really. My fiancée and I found little traction for her nursing career in San Francisco while a job opened up, instead, fifteen minutes from the position I had officially resigned months ago (papers and everything), a position which my school had already filled. I told my department head to expect reference checks from the nearby Santa Cruz City School District.

The farewell dinner came and went. My students said goodbye. I signed yearbooks. My principal stopped me on my last prep. He told me they had freed up a math position.

My hesitance precipitated a good discussion of the school’s advantages and disadvantages for a new teacher (each of which I detailed, however elliptically, earlier this year).

Inasmuch as a unionized teacher can negotiate for anything in this job, my principal has graciously accommodated some material and immaterial needs, accommodations for my fifth year teaching which should keep me challenged and push me into my sixthPick at this all you want but the single largest, truest inhibitor to any career I have in a classroom is that I learn less about this job every year..

Good Reading At Home

  • TMAO takes a dump on teaching’s couch and flips it the bird on his way out the door. Commenters love this guy but I don’t really get it. (Seriously, though: it’s an overwhelmingly accurate lifestyle piece on a) a certain kind of teacher b) teaching a particular population, and I don’t use that adverb lightly. I was almost too depressed to finish.)
  • H. Aychison issues a precise and comprehensive post-mortem of her implementation of skill-based assessment.
  • Eric Hoefler examines skill-based assessment within the humanities.
  • Glenn Waddell, a second-year teacher in Nevada has pushed skill-based assessment on his department restructuring team and is liveblogging the process.
  • Sam Shah post-mortems his math video project, reminding me I have my post-mortem to write.
  • And in between drafts, TMAO retires his blog. I’m taking the rest of the day off. I just … need to be alone.

Those middle four citations are emblems of transparent practice which everyone oughtta hold aloft. Or at least comment on.

Worthwhile Math Clip

Here’s a Chris Rock bit from I’m Gonna Git You Sucka which is simultaneously a) hilarious and b) an efficient introduction of rates. I ripped it, cleaned up the language, and re-uploaded it. Are you with me here? Chris Rock! Clean!! Introducing math!!! This is a freaking unicorn I’m serving up here.

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. Regarding footnote one: I’m trying to think of any career, involving skills and thought, for which that isn’t true?

    I mean, for a lawyer, say, there may be a new regulation or law that provokes a lot of new learning (I’m thinking when Sarbanes-Oxley hit and required a lot of retooling for corporate law types), or for a doctor there may be a new technique or a radically different treatment.

    But otherwise, in most professions, there is a basic pile of learning (and the learning to learn it that goes along with the pile) that takes place early in your career and after that, it’s a search for new ideas, new techniques, info from other fields that can inform your teaching, etc. that informs how much you learn and change.

  2. H. Aychison. I’m still laughing, but, yeah, the anonymity thing is getting stupid. I’m trying to decide to change that, but, I don’t know, never mind.

    As for the not learning enough as the years add up, this side note: The past few weeks I’ve been e-mailing a few math ed researchers in connection with finishing up the most improbably useful ed class I’ve taken so far. I’ve been asking questions about math specific learning disabilities, and one researcher writes back, listing some resources that look great and that I’ll check out when I can access a good library after the vacation, and then adds:

    I’m sorry not to have more to offer you, but at this point you are noticing things in your students that the research world has not yet gotten around to exploring. You are very much on the cutting edge!

    Now what I was asking about was nothing particularly unusual – definitely stuff my (admittedly above average geeky) math teacher colleagues would also discuss, and certainly nothing more complex than what Mr. K routinely dissects on his blog. It’s just that there is so little connection between those that are hired to know the literature and produce more of it, and those that work in classrooms.

    I’m wondering if there aren’t ways of making more teacher-researcher interactions happen, in the interest of more learning across the board. And, your kind of assessment system might be particularly useful not only for helping students learn, but also for generating data of a kind that math ed researchers could use for teaching us more.

    Not sure that investigations in the intersection of cognitive psychology and math ed are what would make teaching more exciting for you in the long run – but maybe it could add interest for a few years – no?

  3. Well, yay! I’m really, really happy that you are staying in our district! I’ve shared your thoughts on assessing math with my elementary colleagues and they wanted to know why you were leaving the district. I’m really glad that you are not. We are lucky and I’m glad you got somethings you wanted too! Besides, you don’t want to leave Santa Cruz laid back for the hustle and bustle of The City.

  4. (after a pause for respectful silence)
    Dan any chance you can put your new videos on youtube? Vimeo has a mysterious “R Rating” block at my school.

  5. @H., I found myself leaving a comment the other day clarifying your gender for another blogger. Uf. At least you coulda picked a more feminine initial?

    @Alice, criminy. Can’t believe they posted that one. If ever I was gonna censor someone’s comment …

    @Kate, I’d rather not. YouTube, as a video repository and social network, kinda bums me out. You can get an unblocked and higher-res experience with the iPod edition, though.