Why I can’t just “Close My Door and Teach”

After a conversation with an amazing colleague this morning, I have postponed my state testing blog post (which was getting difficult to write without snark anyway) and replaced it with a question that continuously nags at me….

Why can’t I just close my door, teach and be okay with it?

It would be so freeing to just let go of my frustrations with the structure of our school system, people’s uninformed views on math education and/or Common Core State Standards, national/state/local education initiatives that feel like “one more thing” instead of what is best for students, standardized testing….etc…however, I find that is close to impossible for me as of lately.

Admittedly, I am a very strong-willed and possibly overly passionate person, which makes me a little more reactive to the above situations than most. I am slowly learning to take things in, be a better listener, and look for solutions over simply living the problem. But as hard as I try, I still find myself aggravated with things that are just “not right” in my head/heart/gut with our current system.  Every time I hit this frustration level, I always think to myself, “Why can’t I just be okay with closing my door and doing what is best for the group of students I have right now? Why do I let all of these other “things” bother me so much? Why can’t I just “LET IT GO”?

I thought it was just me, until this morning, when my colleague stated the identical thought. I left our conversation wondering what makes us different than those who can just live in the present, focus on doing best by their current students and tuck away their educational frustrations? Is it just our personalities or something more?

Don’t get me wrong, every day I do my best by the learners in my room, but that is just not seeming like enough anymore.  I find myself questioning how much longer I can do this because it seems like such a gargantuan problem with our system OR I am constantly feeling very anxious about being labeled as a “troublemaker” because I voice my opinions to those who may not want to hear them.

So, why can’t I just close my door and teach….

#1 – My students have to leave my room at the end of the year and if I am not comfortable with the math classrooms they may be entering, I feel it is my responsibility to try and work on this.

#2 – I can’t stop, because if I do, who will push for an improvement in our current school structure? If all of the passionate educators “give up” how will change ever happen?

#3 – Twitter has empowered me. I have developed a PLN of so many amazing, brilliant and open educators who leave me feeling that I am not alone in these issues/struggles. I am pushed forward daily by reading all of the great things that are happening in math education across the world. I am bombarded (in the best sense of the word) with research and action research on the very things in which I consistently struggle.

#4 – Teaching math is my passion, not just my job. I am not okay with working so hard to build perseverance and great mathematical curiosity in my students to have it followed by rote algorithmic memorization. I can’t ignore that.

#5 – I love these kids. Every year, I love a new group of them and I feel that they are worth all of my frustrations and struggles. They deserve the best education and until I feel that is consistent across our district/state, I am not okay with it.

#6 – I want people to be held accountable. If you are going to speak to the public concerning our education system, do your research. If you are going to be a part of a structure that isn’t working, work to fix it. Just be passionate. Period.

Ahh…this post feels like therapy for me 🙂 Now time to get off of the psychiatrist’s couch and start my planning for the week….have some great decimal work ahead!


3 thoughts on “Why I can’t just “Close My Door and Teach”

  1. Atlas Educational

    Stick to it as long as you can and when you can’t there’s still no shame. I am convinced that if teachers shrugged the system would collapse and we’d see a rebuild instead of a slow death. Best of luck to you and the kids in the meantime are getting what they need from you.


  2. eric j. p.

    I know what you mean, about how it might not be enough to do right by your students. It’s great to be passionate about education. But we have to temper that passion sometimes when we deal with others. We can’t drag them kicking and screaming towards our way of thinking. Sometimes huge positive changes are the result of many, incremental moves.



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