Posted by: rdkpickle | 04.03.2013


(I’m tired and feeling sick and probably shouldn’t be blogging. But there is a lot on my mind today, and I need to get some of the things out of it so that I can sleep. So.)




I like brainstorming for my classes. Lesson planning, when you have enough time and some good resources to help spark your creative process, can be awesome.

My plans absolutely should get better from year to year – more engaging activities, better focus on problem solving, more in-tune with the students I have in my class. I should be rethinking and revising the curriculum, even if I do so in baby steps. I can do that! Every teacher should be doing that! That’s one part of my job I feel excited about and in control of.

But the plan is not the thing.

Because the plans might have gotten better, but each interaction with a student only happens once. So much of this job is about knowing our students as individual learners and making sure that what happens on their end is what we were aiming for. That takes a lot of work, there are a ton of variables, and it doesn’t feel like something that’s easy to plan for. Execution is hard. Also, it’s exhausting because unlike the plans that can “get better” from year to year, it’s something we start from scratch with each student, each year. It takes time to learn who your students are, build rapport, understand the dynamics of each class, and orchestrate an environment that pushes each kid. All of this, each year, from scratch, while staying positive every day and making each moment count regardless of anything else that is going on your life as an actual human being and not just a math teacher.

I know I am never going to “perfect” the human element of this job. It’s always going to be challenging. I just wish people running the show could see that that’s the part I need help with!

As Jason said in a post last month, “the idea is the easy part.

Everyone has ideas. My question isn’t about his idea it’s about his willingness to put the work in to make it happen and keep it happening.

You’ve got an idea? So do a million other people. Let’s stop celebrating ideas. Celebrate those standing waste deep in the muck with dirt in their nails and sweat on their face.

This job isn’t just about thought, it’s about action. Conversations around innovation by the adults in the building are important, but reflective practice is just as important as new ideas in creating change where it matters – in the end result for the students.

Stop giving me ideas – I’ve got plenty. The next big thing isn’t going to solve all of my problems. Start helping me get better as a teacher in action and supporting me in what will always be one of the hardest parts of this job – doing it.


(I promised myself I would cut back on complaining and this is a very whiny post so maybe when I’m feeling better I’ll get back to writing about what’s going on in my classes these days (trig! exponential functions! logarithms! matrices!))




  2. I love your focus on each student as an individual learner. Reaching the students is so important, but I don’t think most teachers put the same emphasis on that action. Good for you!

  3. I love the notion of starting from scratch…no wonder when I think each year should be easier and I get so excited by a tweak, it seems classroom management and getting to the individual takes longer, each year seems more difficult. The intention and planning become way easier, and the delivery seems to get tougher. Is it me being able to relate to the students less and less? Is it the students whose attention span is dwindling? It is the desire to strike the perfect balance that keeps me coming back for more.

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