Lately I have been doing a large amount of reflecting on what I control in a classroom (working from Whitaker's 14 things great teachers do ). I cannot control what a student does outside my door very easily, heck, it is hard to control them within my room (from a desire to learn perspective - from a classroom management perspective I do okay).
I control myself, the relationships I make, the passion I bring to the room. If my class is boring whose fault is that! I know math can be dry -- but I don't have to be. I control my room, my relationships and expectations, the projects we do, and what the students find important.
I cannot control others in the building, or other schools, or in the community or in the state legislature, I can only make sure that I make an environment where my room is a sanctuary of learning the math skills the world requires of today's students. I try and create a place where we do things the students need to know to succeed - sorry Smarter Balanced Test. Where students don't strive for an artificial grade but for real skills, real problem solving - skills that will allow them to succeed beyond the walls of my school. I don't teach math for students to play school but to gain the ability to be successful outside the walls of my room.
Those are the things I control. And everyday I know I have to approach my room with a desire and fire. What we do within my room is greatly important. We work hard to skip merely good and go for great.
I control that.