Probably Indicative Of The Splash I’ve Made On My Campus Over The Last Four Years

From the student newspaper (apologies to Andrew Kuo):

At the end of every year I’ve worked at this school, I’ve either been laid off or I’ve quit, which means that no one really believes I’m leaving now. I was offered a doctoral fellowship at Stanford starting next fall, lasting the better part of a decade, and emphasizing “curriculum design and teacher education.” If I’ve made my motivations for teaching and blogging clear at all these last few years, you’ll understand this wasn’t an offer I could turn down.

If I’ll admit to any buyer’s remorse, though, it’s right now, a few hours after saying goodbye to some of the coolest human beings of any age I’ve had the good luck to meet. I’m feeling too melancholy to write at length about any of this, which is probably a good turn for humanity, but these would have been the general themes:

  1. the opportunity cost of teaching, the time that planning for functional teaching has cost me every day for six years; how not teaching will allow me to start banking some time and concentration towards longer projects.
  2. some frivolous concern for the future of this blog; uncertainty that I’ll have any time or energy to write anything here during my doctoral studies, much less anything of any insight into the classrooms I’ve abandoned; concern that I’ve now become the sort of egghead I found it so easy to ignore when I was a teacher.
  3. some really frivolous remarks about blogging as career propellant.

For now, I’m going to see how fast I can hit the bottom of this bottle; I’m going to tell my wife as many stories about those kids as she can stand; and I’m going to hope my next job is half as rewarding as the last.

I got a lot better from teaching than I gave. Never let me tell you otherwise.

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. Rewritten this comment a few times, but it always sounded like a eulogy or like I’m signing your yearbook. about just, “Thank you.”

  2. Best of luck Dan. My hope is that after you finish your fellowship (or during for that matter) your powerful positive effect is able to be felt by as many students (directly or indirectly) and teachers as it was before you started your fellowship. I know that I am a better teacher because of you, and my students have certainly learned more and enjoyed learning more because of the effect you had on me. Thank you.

  3. Joe Henderson

    June 10, 2010 - 2:48 am -

    Good luck Dan. I look forward to interacting with you in a different space and capacity now. I’ve been a fan of Linda Darling-Hammond’s for some time now and hope you have the opportunity to work with her at Stanford. Also, I hope you continue writing during that time, but I’ll be honest about my own PhD program: it’s a lot, A LOT, of writing. Still, even I am itching to get back on the blogging horse for different reasons now. Anyway, like Jason said above, “thank you” from me as well.

  4. You know it is a good day when you come in in the morning and a colleague says “Dude, did you check out Meyer’s blog today?”

    Ok, so today not so much. However, I found your TED talk a few months ago, and then your blog, at a time when I didn’t yet have a plan for how I was going to improve my practice for next year. (It really is practice isn’t it!?) Just the short time I’ve spent with you has given me at least 10 years worth of ideas and things to think about and do. (You’ll be back by then – right??)

    During your time at Stanford, just an occasional post about some kernel of an idea that you have would be good enough for me. It’s then up to the rest of us to flesh it out and do the heavy lifting that you have previously done for us. You’re my hero – thanks.

  5. I’m sad for me…. I JUST found your blog. Guess I have to read the archives! But excited for you. Good luck.

  6. Congrats about the fellowship. As we say in the south “you are walking in tall cotton!”

    I completely understand your feelings of hesitation and excitement. I miss teaching every day, but being at a university making positive impacts on future teachers is more rewarding than I could have expected. Plus, now I get to work on summer camps :)

    Enjoy Stanford!

  7. Over the years I have come into contact with a few really outstanding teachers. I have worked alongside some of them, my daughters were fortunate to have been taught by a few of them, and as a school board member, I was thrilled to have them working with the students in my district. Just a fraction of these outstanding educators are still teaching in the classroom. A few have retired, but most have gone on to positions that influence other teachers to become better…which in turn influences many more students in a positive way. This is you already- and you are just going to keep getting better. Congratulations to you and best of luck in the future. I know teachers will continue to be inspired by your thoughts and ideas. FYI- my project for next year is to create more multi-media problem solving activities….be less helpful. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Congratulations!
    I am going to miss your blog and your insights a lot though, so my congrats are tempered with a bit of disappointment for me (certainly not you). If I could put in one request though: please don’t take down your previous posts for a while, it seems I’ve got a summer reading list for myself and that all your old posts are on it!

  9. Congrats Dan!

    The fact that you are leaving the classroom made me think about one of the reasons I’m for education reform.

    Right now, there are not really any promotions for teachers that don’t take them out of the classroom. If a programmer is really good and insightful and a hard worker, they can be put in charge of bigger projects, become a systems architect, manage a department, but they are still writing code.

    Same with any number of jobs in the private and public sector. But if a teacher wants to progress and grow in their field, the only way they can do that is to leave the classroom. Not really sure what to say about this except that I think it is a problem when all the incentives are to remove our bright stars from the profession.

    Not to say our brightest stars always leave, but thats certainly the way the game is laid out.

  10. Maybe I’m selfish, but I’m excited for ME that YOU get to devote more bandwidth to the thinking that has helped and inspired me so much. I hope you find that blogging helps you process your fellowship just as much as it’s helped you process teaching – we’d all be richer for it. And don’t spend any time on buyers remorse: the classroom will always be available to you. Good luck and many many thanks.

  11. Congratulations Dan. The classroom will miss you. And with no intentional cutting, but do not allow the process of a doctorate take away your intuitive approach to learning.

    I still believe that the act of teaching is an art much more than a science. You are artistic in your scientific approach to teaching…don’t lose that…it is what makes you stand out from the cacophony of educators who choose to write about their practice.

    Again, it was a pleasure to have lunch with you and your wife in New York. Keep in touch as much as possible.

  12. Congratulations Dan! Good to know that people with true insight are moving into leadership roles in education.

    Stephanie Grey
    (a random, inspired, blog follower)

  13. Sumita Jaggar

    June 10, 2010 - 7:19 am -

    Congratulations, Dan on your fellowship at Stanford and the opportunities that await you there.

    I will dearly miss your blog and insights — I hope you keep posting your ideas. You’ve been an inspiration for me to include much more technology and open-ended questions in my own classroom. Its clear from the postings here that many other teachers have been inspired to keep improving their instruction as well.

    Thank you!

  14. It’s interesting that the others who are leaving got a lot more text space than you did. Did you expect that?

  15. I forgot to add to my previous post that I actually read the article on your school’s website.

  16. Sad, Dan, but inevitable. As someone who’s also very recently moved out of the classroom I know how you feel! And don’t worry about the blogging, just move your focus slightly and continue to share with us what you’re up to. :)

  17. Best of luck, Dan. It would be wonderful if you could use the blog to keep us posted on your progress through your program, what you’re discovering, and so on. I know we’ll be hearing a lot from you in the future.

  18. I have a feeling the dust has not settled on the blog but if it did, it was an exceptionally good run.

    Thank you and good luck.

  19. Dan, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and your insights push me to be better in my classroom. I wish you the best on your next chapter, and please (please, please, please…) keep blogging!

  20. Cathy Campbell

    June 10, 2010 - 4:54 pm -

    Wow, what an opportunity and how exciting this must be for you. Somewhere along the way in my teaching career someone called me an an ‘agent of change’ and that is how I would describe you. I have never met you in person and probably never will, but I am thankful to technology that allows math educators to connect via Twitter, blogs, etc. I look forward to hearing about your studies and continued insights. You are an ‘agent of change’ and I thank you for that.

  21. Congratulations! I can’t remember, it seems like 2-3 years ago when you were pondering the move to a doctoral program…. in any case, that sounds like an awesome opportunity that can’t be missed! You had better keep blogging – I do want to hear about how grad school goes.

  22. Well, if you’re out of the classroom, it’s a two-edged sword. Try to get connected to some research that puts you in SOMEONE’S classroom. You need to see practice, even someone else’s. Grad school can get AWFULLY divorced from reality if you’re not careful.

  23. Katie Waddle

    June 10, 2010 - 7:50 pm -

    I’m finishing the teacher ed program at Stanford and I’ve been reading your blog for a while (behind the scenes, we haven’t had a lot of head space this year). Welcome to Stanford, I hope that it will push you in all the right directions. I will be starting teaching next year, and I’m already looking forward to playing around with some of your ideas.

  24. You are a fortunate person, Dan. This is hitting you at just the right time in your career that you can do this and not get stuck by the inevitable inertia of tenure, seniority, mortgages, etc. You will make an even bigger contribution in the long run so go have some fun, kid!

    While you’re there, and you’re feeling the need to dabble, check out:

    Problem solving and middle school teachers. Fun. You might even get a classroom or two to experiment with.


  25. Bah. I just dropped by because I wanted to show you this schedule of the World Cup games…the graphics are sweet and I thought of you when I saw it:

    But alas…I come here and find this news! I was fine on my last day, until I picked up my last book to read…and I bawled like a baby. Pretty embarrassing, but it’s amazing how compassionate 8 year olds are. I miss them, and I’m even coming back next year (fingers crossed).

    Good luck…it’s great to think of you plugging yourself into another outlet where your insights can trickle through the system.

    And…thank you.

  26. That is great! Congratulations!

    And I am SO excited, because I was just looking at Stanford for their doctoral program, I know they’re one of the great education schools, along with Harvard, UVA and UofP – and this really helps me make up my mind! I also have great friends in Cali. So I’ll probably see you there, in a year or two (maybe three). I’m great at tests and stuff, so I’ll probably get in. :)

  27. Try to find ways to keep a toe in the classroom because the classrooms *need* more effective curriculum, but they need that baptism in fire, too. Don’t disappear up the ivory tower, please :)

  28. Kareen Kalvin

    June 11, 2010 - 7:50 am -

    Dan, I have only had the honor of reading your blog recently, but must say it is comforting to know that you are keeping true education alive and well. i’m delighted that your passion and expertise will now reach a larger audience. congratulations and don’t look back. Every student you have enlightened will always remember. Enjoy!

  29. I came a little late to the party, as I have only been following your blog since Stephen Leinwand gave you a shout out at NCSM. In just a few short weeks a couple of your insights have spurred thinking for me that I think will turn out to have a transformative affect on my work. It does take a leap of faith to leave the classroom, but I’m sure you will continue to find ways to stay engaged with the true work of teaching. You will be amongst good company at Stanford, and deservedly so. I am excited to see what Dan Meyer does next…

  30. Well done, Dan, and congratulations on what sounds like an exciting new path. I’ve been a reader (lurker) of your blog from the very beginning and it’s been very cool to watch all this unfold. Doctoral studies aren’t easy but they are extremely rewarding. Enjoy!

  31. I’m in very close to the same situation: just finished my last day at an amazing teaching job (in Pennsylvania) and am headed to Stanford in the fall. I’ll be a master’s student in Learning, Design & Technology. I had been crying into my post-commencement beer, but after reading this post, I’m getting excited that I’m headed to a school that attracts folks like you!

  32. You should start a new blog that changes the way people think about doctoral fellowshipping.

  33. I’m going to be like your kids and just assume that you’re not really leaving.

    Yup, it’s working for me. I fully expect to find more things of interest on this here blog.

    So there.

  34. Congratulations!! I have a sneaking suspicion that we will all still be hearing and learning from you. Stanford! Rock on!

  35. You better be slipping over to the on occasion to give that ‘design thinking’ a look. Might be a cool place to read those heavy edu-theory tomes starting this fall, at the very least. Lots of white board space from what I gather. And you might even end up with an IDEO invite you also can’t turn down.

    Better yet, enjoy the melancholy (well earned and deeply respected) and the new adventure. Been an honor knowing you on this front. Look forward to all that lies ahead.

  36. Just remember, Dan, especially now that you will become an egghead: SHOW ME THE MONEY.

    Other than that, congrats on moving “up” in the world. Enjoy Stanford! :)

  37. Dan,

    As an AmeriCorps volunteer who wants to change education for the better, but hesitant to join the teaching profession, you have inspired me to take the leap and have introduced me to a whole community of amazing teachers who work hard, innovate, and hold themselves accountable. In other words, you’ve introduced me to the work force that I originally envisioned joining.

    Thank you for your inspiration and ideas. Please do whatever you can to help close the gap between academia and teachers.

  38. Dan,

    Good luck in your next chapter. You will be great…..I’m excited for you. Will miss you, but hoping to get insight by still reading your blog (keep it going if you can!). Please stay in touch.

  39. I just watched you and found you on TED. How you inspire! How lucky Stanford is to have you for awhile. Perhaps you can get them to help fund some high quality Jr. High, High School “textbooks.” We Australian’s adopt the same textbooks as the United States. They are completely horrific.

  40. thank you so much for your blog and for sharing your materials and thoughts on the profession.
    –a grateful first-year teacher

  41. I wish you an exciting learning experience in your grad school years. I have been reading your blog, and following links to others, only a short time. But it came at a good time, just after reading Diane Ravitch’s book in this climate of school and teacher bashing. I have just a few years left in this profession, and the work and thoughtfulness and generosity that you and your young colleagues exemplify offer a breath of fresh air in this ugly, politicized climate. These are indeed exciting times in math education. I am sure you will continue to contribute to the discussion.

  42. Chris Rasure

    June 14, 2010 - 7:54 pm -


    Thanks for your devotion to the craft. Your constant desire to improve as a teacher shines through every post. Best of luck at Stanford. Keep on blogging your experiences and insight if time allows.

    -Chris (middle-school science teacher)

  43. Dan,

    Congratulations to you and condolences to the young people that you would have impacted next and following years. I recently watched your TED talk and began to read your blog. I was getting ready to invite you to present to the annual EARCOS Teachers’ Conference in 2012, in Bangkok. We are doing a math strand and you are perfect for the task 12-1400 teachers from all over East Asia. I don’t suppose you will have the time now?

  44. Congratulations Dan!

    As many have requested, I hope you continue to blog as you move into this new chapter of your career.

    I attended a conference where Linda Darling-Hammond was the keynote speaker, and she was such an inspiration- I am applying to Stanford’s PhD program for Fall 2011- I would love to hear about your experiences as you go through your first year!

    Best of luck,

    Juliet (middle school math)

  45. Dan,

    I am going to be the gadfly in your comments nook. Why? Because I think it’s sad when leaving the classroom is considered a step up. Because your students are losing one heck of a teacher. Because too many inspirational teachers leave the classroom, burn out, or check out.

    I don’t know where we got the idea that leaving students to some (possibly) less-able teacher is so laudable. I see this time and again. Stellar teachers come, they leave. Each rung above Direct Student Instruction comes ribboned with the prize called “Increased Status”. Just look at the comments on this thread. You’re leaving the classroom, and it’s as if you’ve won the lottery!

    You’ll have time now to rare back in a comfortable chair and think. The bell won’t ring, papers won’t pile up, you don’t have small kids of your own to pick up. All well and good, no fault there. But you left the classroom. Too many good teachers do. Why you did, and what that gesture means for the rest of the teaching profession has implications far beyond a newsletter goodbye.

    Good luck anyway, even if it’s the curmudgeonly kind. You’re an inspiration.


  46. Dan,

    I for one am happy that you will still be in the field of education. Although you are leaving the classroom, you will never stop teaching. For me, teaching and learning are my life. I don’t stop teaching/learning just because a bell rings. Good teachers understand that their impact on students and student learning is not limited to the classroom. Often it is that stack of papers that piles up and the lack of time to sit back in a chair and think that I feel is the biggest obstacle to my ability to teach and learn with students.

    I have been fortunate enough to get a glimpse beyond the classroom as a district TOSA. This experience has given me the ability to see just how far beyond the bell to bell classroom period my impact on students reaches. It is evident to me that the most limiting factor on my ability to have a positive impact on student learning is the 4 walled classroom itself.

    If we as teachers are to be at our best, we need to continue to be refreshed, inspired, engaged, and passionate about what we do. Opportunities like this afford us the chance to raise our game while at the same time providing us the opportunity to enjoy life. Teaching is not a “Cross” that we must bare. Teachers are people with dreams of our own, desires of our own, and passions beyond the classroom. If life opens doors that provide us the chance to better our financial situation or to lighten the load just enough to pursue some of our other interests, well, we have earned it, and we should grab life by the horns and live it. At the end of the day Teachers are a special breed, and regardless of our job title, we will always be Teachers!

    Congratulations Dan! Take this new adventure on with the same gusto that you brought to your classroom. Your reach on impacting students has just broadened, make the most of it. Life is looking you in the face, embrace it, Love it.

    Your Friend,

    Brian Van Dyck

  47. I fell off the wagon on reading around here for a while and just recently came back. Congrats on going to Stanford. I’m especially interested because this is essentially the program I’m applying to for fall of 2011. Who are you working under? Did you just find out in June or have you known for a while?

  48. I’ll be working with Pam Grossman and Hilda Borko, both of whom seem pretty awesome off our introductory meeting and off my survey of their work. As I recall, I applied in January and found out somewhere late March or early April. Best of luck.

  49. Both women I’ve checked out as well. Very cool. I’ve spoken with Hilda Borko and she sounds great. Looking forward to reading whatever updates you post regarding your first experiences, and perhaps I’ll see you in about a year.

  50. I find it pretty hard to predict what this blog will look like in the fall. I hope I’ll find blogging as easy and satisfying then as I do now, but it’s difficult to say.

  51. a different eric

    November 13, 2012 - 8:12 pm -

    over two years has passed now… and as i look back at some of your old stuff… you’re only getting better and more helpful.