Shut Your Door

“Don’t ever, for any reason, do anything to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what. No matter where. Or who, or who you are with, or where you are going or… or where you’ve been… ever. For any reason, whatsoever.” ~Michael Scott, Dunder Mifflin Scranton

I can remember pieces of advice right down to the moment. 

In the car, after I was the losing pitcher in the 12-year old championship game.

Dad: There’s always going to be somebody bigger, faster, and stronger. 

Courtside at a high school basketball game lamenting to my former coach that I was terrified to student teach.

Coach: You’ll do it. Just like you’ve done everything else. 

During my first year teaching, complaining to my mentor about some of the archaic, bureaucratic parts of the job.

Mentor: Just shut your door and teach.

That last one was a watershed moment in my career. I could either take Beth’s advice and run my classroom my way, despite the risk of chastisement or poor evaluations, or disregard her advice and become the kind of robotic teacher I refused I would become. 

Obviously, if you read this blog, you know it wasn’t much of a decision at all. 

But that was twenty-three years ago. Before the country decided to force teachers into one of two, equally horrifying categories: martyrs and pariahs. Now, teachers are leaving the profession with nothing but an existential crisis and a box of KN95 masks to show for it. 

The funny thing is the pandemic, politics, and protocols haven’t shined a light on bad teaching.  No, the bright lights of Twitter threads and resignation letter screenshots have flipped the script and exposed terrible leadership. And it’s long overdue.

So now it’s my turn to give advice to teachers. Teachers who have that resignation letter queued up but haven’t hit send yet. Teachers who have to sit in their idling cars for several minutes as they work up the strength to enter their buildings. Teachers who have been forced to trade creativity for compliance, relationships for data, passion for paychecks. 

Shut your door and teach. 

Teachers don’t serve leaders; they serve kids. 

So shut your door and teach. 

Standards can be explored without being drilled. 

So shut your door and teach.

Lesson plans, which will likely be unread by leaders, can be copy and pasted. 

So shut your door and teach. 

Formal assessments are only one, often flawed, way to measure growth. 

So shut your door and teach. 

Lousy leaders either know they’re lousy and don’t care or don’t know they’re lousy at all. 

So shut your door and teach. 

Shut your door and teach. 

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