What Correlates?

I want to know: what in your life correlates to job satisfaction?

It wasn’t always this way for me but once blogging became a daily fix, it fed my job satisfaction, which then fed my blogging. It isn’t coincidence, then, that a brief hiatus here corresponds to another of my miserable on-the-ledge moments out thereA moment which, uncharacteristically, I handled outside this forum. You’re welcome..

For better or worse, this dy/dan thing here has become a pretty accurate barometer for how much I enjoy teaching, a realization which leaves me wondering, what correlates for you?

Polls are open.

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. My mood at the end of the day seems like the obvious choice. The amount of time I spend playing Tetris in a given evening pretty well coorelates to how I’m feeling about teaching, too.

    Generally, what I listen to music-wise in the evening is a pretty fair indicator.

    For example, if I’ve had a good day, I’ll listen to Gordon Goodwin, Dr. Demento, classic rock or Richard Nixon’s speeches. If I’ve had a bad day, I’ll listen to Sammy Davis, Jr., Cake, The Decemberists or Alexi Murdoch.


  2. “For example, if I’ve had a good day, I’ll listen to Gordon Goodwin, Dr. Demento, classic rock or Richard Nixon’s speeches. If I’ve had a bad day, I’ll listen to Sammy Davis, Jr., Cake, The Decemberists or Alexi Murdoch.”

    Okay none of that makes any sense whatsoever to me.

  3. Hey Dan,

    I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I attended the workshop you held for Oakland Teaching Fellows. Since that workshop, I’ve been a regular on your blog. Your methods have deeply impacted my teaching and have made things easier for me in my first year. So, in the midst of one of your ‘on-the-ledge’ moments, I just wanted to say thank you. Although it’s definitely been A LOT of work and has required me to dedicate MY LIFE, teaching has been a joy for me this first year.

    So, to answer your question, yes. My life and mood do affect my teaching and vice versa. It seems we’ve chosen a profession where life and work intertwine, but isn’t that what it’s all about in the end? Finding something you enjoy to do that you don’t mind that it takes over your life?

    Again, thanks. And please, check out MY BLOG sometime. I’m chronicling my first year:


  4. My shiny, happy self tends to avoid correlations, but I’ll play along because, like Joshua, I love playing games.

    Satisfaction is the voluntary drive to school, constant re-evaluation of my teaching, the relationship building with students.

    I’m satisfied because every time I find myself thinking about ‘something else I could do’, I realize that those thoughts are not moments of dissatisfaction, but re-affirmations of my chosen career path.

    Oh, and never really thinking that what I do is a ‘career’. That’s such a miserable word.

  5. Music plays a role for me as well, but in a different way than others have noted. I sit down at the piano when things aren’t going well. It’s an outlet for me that works wonders. It also tends to be a sign to my husband. If he comes home and I’m playing he starts worrying.

  6. Dan, from your “guest blogger” which was based on your student teaching journals, I’m gathering that you were required (as I was) to keep a “reflection journal” while in your teacher preparation program? I think it’s the thing that made blogging as a form of professional reflection such a natural process. I prefer it to those journals, because of the audience. You never knew if your professor/master teacher was either not calling you on cr*p, or if the “feedback” they gave you was more about their personal axe to grind. With the blogging you can get “amens” that you shouldn’t, but if your audience expands a little, you also get more diversity of opinion and feedback. Enough of that. I have been in hiatus, but it was more due to rushing around to various conferences, traveling. I can tell if I’m in a funk, not because of blog output (although that can happen) but how critical I am of students and others (my poor husband). When my patience is gone, and I’m hacking off, or snapping at others, that’s when I know I’m getting in a bad place. Usually that passes. Normally I HATE this month, and February is beastly for me. I’m happier this year for whatever reason? But, although I’m not a veteran teacher (only at 10 years now), I came to the profession later in life (after working as a banking analyst), so I’m already happier than I ever was in that job, and I’m old enough to know that most of these moods will pass. When I feel like things are not working out, it’s usually about a particular place or position, so I’m willing to move on elsewhere (I’ve changed sites/positions a lot for a teacher, avg. about once every three years). I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m full of myself, and the “wisdom” of maturity. I loved that comment from Laelia during the “guest blogger” stint about you, that cracked me up! Look, everyone coming into the profession, old or young (I did it old) has to let go of cr*ppy ideas, and adjust their thinking. Don’t be afraid of the darkness, or the doubts. Embrace them, analyze them, ignore them when they get in the way. It’s all part of life. There, free advice and worth every damn cent you paid for it.

  7. Time spent reading correlates for me. I teach middle school English, and the happier I am at work, the more I read. If I’m tired, miserable, and annoyed, I’ll watch TV.

    This is not only personal pleasure reading, but lots of reading to keep up with kids—either to read what they are (Twilight is so. freakishly. good.), but also to stay ahead of them in order to make recommendations. Since the beginning of the winter break last December, I’ve read 12 YA books (thanks to Anobii to keeping track for me).

  8. The amount of time I spend on the phone.

    During college I called home once or twice a week. This year it’s every day on my way to and from school. (That’s right, I’m talking to my parents twice a day.) The worse the day, the longer I need to debrief and the more likely I am to call a friend to distract me from planning the next day.

    The ironic part is that I hated talking on the phone through high school.

  9. Easy one (if a little sappy): the number of hours per week I am spending with my family. And the great thing is it’s a leading indicator by about six months; if I’m reducing my hours at home, I can know that my job satisfaction is going to be in the gutter in half-a-year–plenty of time to fix it now that I recognize the indicator and look for it.

  10. Tough question. This first year I’m finding I have very little time for anything outside of school or school related activities, so I can’t use that as a comparison. I think the highest positive correlation would be between job satisfaction and the way in which I relate to others. If I’m joking in the math workroom or with kids in the hall or after school, things are going well. If they aren’t going as well as I’d like, I’m brooding.

  11. This is from my best professional reading this year, “Why We Do What We Do” by Ed Deci: “The true meaning of being alive is not just to feel happy, but to experience the full range of human emotions.”

    So– I’m just putting this out there, no real sense of whether it works– perhaps the depth of the on-the-ledge moment is actually the true barometer itself. For how much you care. For how much you invest. For how much you will learn from being in the dark. For your willingness to go there in the first place.

    Is happiness or enjoyment, in the end, a fairly superficial means of judging whether one is doing one’s job properly?…

    And now I will drown some kittens. Excuse me.

  12. I’ve come to expect nothing less than interesting thoughts from you people and no one disappoints. I’ve pulled a few comments up to the big show.

    Quick one to Alice: I reckon I’d suffer fewer professional crises if I had already sampled what other sectors have to offer, like you have. You have a degree of certainty which I won’t experience unless I … well … you know ….

  13. Dan, don’t worry about it! There are some things you know that I don’t and maybe won’t ever. I just hate that eating our young cr@p (hey let’s see how long that one will last) when someone shows any spark of life as a teacher. Yeah, you can be arrogant, and a PITA, but so can all of us (I’m a big PITA). You also have some things dead-on and most importantly, you are willing to call yourself on stuff. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then you’re in trouble. THERE that’s the sign I’m in a serious funk, when I take myself too seriously.