Tie And Jeans


This was an open letter I sent out to my middle school faculty. For a number of reasons, each less flattering than the next, I haven’t found a good space to talk about anything of broader scope than “can we block the entire internet during exam week” in a long time.

I’m hoping to find out who’s the closet revolutionary. The by-the-book math teacher who’s would switch to a non-tracked constructivist classroom in a heartbeat, but knows “that’s not how we do things here.”

I thought that 2020 might sound far enough off to open up a space for some of those conversations.


It’s when my daughter will be 12, pushing through the grades I now teach with equal parts imagination and insouciance.
It’s a nice round number and, despite its incredible proximity, still manages to carry some vauge sense of the science fictional.

Most of you still plan to be working, either in the classroom or another academic position. It’s only a decade off, and a lot of us have been quietly adding years on to our anticipated career, as we wait for our TIAA-CREF envelopes tell a happier story.

By 2020 the median age of teachers will have shifted even lower, and a larger percentage of teaching faculties will be under 35 (that’s a 1985 birthday in 2020). Members of this 8th grade (class of 2014) will be sitting in division meetings as first or second year teachers, with a fresh MA under their belt. Students from the current 12th grade (class of 2010) will be almost veteran teachers, past the 5 year milestone and full of stories of how naive they were in their first few years.

In 2020, the computer lab will be a fading memory, it’s space long repurposed, leaving students only with the mystery of why that room has so many more good outlets than the other classrooms. I won’t embarrass myself by trying to make software and hardware predictions, other than to say that I read two news items a day that make me do the “living in the future” headshake. I don’t see that pace slowing down over the next decade, do you?

So let’s plan for 2020 by getting together and talking about what we’re doing now, as teachers and learners. Let’s talk about what’s the core of our craft, discuss which elements are essential and inviolate, and which might just be habits and patterns left by a world that’s already slipping away.

A Days (except when they’re filled with something else)
Athletic block (after 6th period)
Computer Lab (while it’s still called that)
I’ll bring snacks.


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