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  • Writer's pictureRobert Ahdoot

My truth: leaving the classroom, staying the course

The view from atop Sandia Peak, following my keynote at NM's teacher conference

With sheer exhilaration, coupled with some nerves and nostalgia, I decided to step down after 11 full time years in the classroom. The time has come for a change.

Here's what's coming up for me, and for Yay Math.

Where do I begin? Let's begin with the truth. Then more of it, then we'll close with the same.

Indeed it's been 11 years. That's a lot of years. I began in my mid 20's to my now late 30's, from chasing girls back then to chasing two baby girls around the house now. So much has changed.

When the outlandish notion of recording our live classes was conceived, it began as all successful endeavors do. It began with a "wouldn't it be so COOL if we could..." I bore no visions beyond figuring out how to get the uncut footage from my camcorder to what was then Google Video at the time. Yes, Yay Math started prior to Google's acquisition of YouTube, prior to the "viral video" phenomenon, and prior to the now taken-for-granted-notion of video being a slam-dunk educational tool. I started filming prior to HD even being a thing!

So you see, making learning fun, understandable, and emotionally appealing for people around the world was never an explicit goal back then. It was just about capturing something amazing, and raising a flag around it. Such has become my entire business philosophy. The philosophy: work on creating tangible value for people, offer it graciously, and goodness will coalesce and magnetize around it.

That goodness has reached a critical threshold, so it's time to take the leap. The leap from what I've known already for 30% of my life – classroom teaching – and on to the next adventure. Yes, I've done the math... I've been a classroom teacher for 30% of my life, as in, since I was a 'waa-waa' baby until now... 30% of every waking day has been teaching math. I'll get into the adventure itself, but first it's important to discuss why I'm leaving the classroom.

To my core, I'm a teacher. It's a massive honor to do this work, and the educator role has always been home for me. I'm also happy to know that I'm other things too. I realize that while I was a teacher, I was also an observer. I tuned into which phrases and energies opened the floodgates to learning, and which slammed them shut. Into the mix with teacher and observer, I'm also a synthesizer, fusing ground-breaking ideas from other experts, films I've seen, books I've read, and my recent parenthood, all into singular messages about how to successfully connect to and eventually inspire those before us.

The time has come to focus on getting these vital messages out to the very people who seek to inspire their students. I'm too excited to have learned all this fascinating information, at the rate that I continue to learn it, and simply sit on it while remaining in my cozy zone. Yes, I was nervous prior to my talk in NM last week. I felt that no matter how much I prepared, that I still wasn't as ready as I would have liked to be. It was the same jittery feeling I had at the outset of my teaching career. But I stuck through it, because it was exactly what I was meant to do. Working through those obstacles is the whole point of being alive, because the stakes are too high (i.e. the kids) and our messages are too important to not transmit.

It's time for the adventure to begin now:

  • Expand Yay Math's reach to more people who will benefit from its vision. This means getting my recent book to people who want to make learning fun, connective, and powerful.

  • Inform educators and leaders around the world about insights into inspired learning strategies. This means speaking at conferences, homeschool organizations, and teacher training seminars, both remotely and in person.

  • Continue to make awesome content that is both educationally effective as well as emotionally resonant – all the while keeping it openly available as a worldwide public service. This means a whole lot of video recording & publishing, which I'm super thrilled about.

Last week, I spoke at New Mexico's Golden Apple Foundation teacher conference, pics can be found here. I can not describe the spiritual rush it is to share every insight you've developed over YEARS, which forms the basis not only of your book, but of your interpersonal life (i.e. the way I carry myself in the world), and deliver it to like-minded educators who clearly make a massive positive impact on their kids' lives. I didn't want to leave. All of us there know that this work means you have to be real, thus we enjoyed a celebration of realness together for a few short days.

If your school or organization seeks inspired professional development, you're not going to find anyone more dedicated than I am. This is my life, literally. I look forward to hearing from you and becoming partners in making your students' learning so rich and positive. It's the perfect time to coordinate, as we stand at the outset of our upcoming school year.

If you're on my personal mailing list, then you're a Yay Math champion. You believe in what Yay Math offers people, and know that it improves people's lives. Thank you for understanding that vision and upholding it in your unique way.

I took this photo from my hotel room: a hopeful sunrise both in New Mexico, and in my life. Things are about to get very interesting.

A new day is on the horizon. Join the ride with me.

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