Maverick Teaching – Close Your Door and Teach
A few years into my teaching career I met up with a former professor of mine. She was largely responsible for inspiring me to continue on the path to becoming a teacher. However, over the first few years in the classroom, the subtle comments from colleagues and administrators managed to push aside the inspirational messages that my old professor had sent me out into the world. When I met her she of course asked how my teaching was going and I responded with what I thought was a very typical message. I told her how it was so hard to teach with the standards constantly being discussed. I went on about how the fun had left the profession and I was now required to focus only on a test that the students didn’t care about. Hopefully, I didn’t talk about how the job had changed and it used to be so much better because I had only been at it for a few years but that’s usually the part that comes next.
I will never forget the somewhat puzzled look on my professor’s face as I described my challenges in the classroom. It was most likely a look of disappointment but I hope it was not because I would hate to disappoint her. But she was undoubtedly ready to continue teaching me as she began her response. She told me to remember that she taught me to close my door and teach. She taught me that I was in control of what happened between those four walls and that as long as I did what was best for my students nobody would ever care or know. She asked me how the standards had changed what I had to do daily. She asked who was watching me daily to tell me that I had to teach differently because of standards or a test. I had to think for some time but the answer was that nothing had changed and my classroom was still my own. There is a place with no more freedom in all of education than inside the four walls of a single teacher’s room. It is your own and you are the professional charged to do what is best for your students. The message that I received that day has stuck with me for a lifetime. And the message is simple. Teachers just have to close their doors and teach.
The outside world will change by the decade, year, or even the day. Administrators and policies will come and go. But Maverick Teachers are charged with the mission to best prepare themselves to do what is best for their students every single day. Teachers must be confident to build their skills to the point where they build the classroom that they always wanted to have, not one that someone else tells them that they should have. The concept of closing your door and teaching does enable you to do whatever you want. It actually will challenge you to become the very best educator that you can be as you pursue the methods and practices that best match your style and the education that students need. This blog will continue to present the best ways that like-minded teachers can become Mavericks and teach in inspirational ways. The first step of the process is to free yourself of the distractions and excuses that seem to plague most teachers at one time or another. You just need to close your door and teach and you have permission to do so! Next, you must be confident in the ways that you’ll go your own way within your own room.