Thursday, August 15, 2013

Where did that come from?!

Tonight was back-to-school night... my twelfth as a teacher, but the first in which I did not have to welcome parents and attempt to give a twenty minute speech in seven minutes flat.  I made the decision to "semi-retire" last spring and have relished the thought of fewer classes, fewer preps, and fewer papers to grade.  That is... until I was driving to school this evening and realized that my sole duty was to distribute yearbooks.  I had no copies to make - I had no room to set up - I had no syllabi to review.  For all intents and purposes, I was going to be a non-entity, without purpose and value... and my eyes filled with tears.

WHAT?!  Why the tears?  I am thrilled to have long weekends where I can focus on my own hobbies and interests rather than tweaking lesson plans.  I love the idea that my husband and I can take off for four day adventures throughout the school year.  I have accepted the calling to write (whatever that means....) and gladly devote Mondays and Fridays to develop this new "career"  I have burned the candle from both ends for so many years that I crave the solitude and peace that this new teaching schedule will afford.  And yet....

I did not realize the fulfillment and satisfaction I derived from teaching a "full load"  I was a part of the inner workings of the school.  At one point not too many years ago, I was teaching 7th grade - 8th grade - 9th grade - 11th grade - 12th grade English classes PLUS computer apps and yearbook.  I knew practically every secondary student in the student body.  I was a long-time member of the Academic Committee and my longevity at the school earned me some respect.  But now... I teach two upper level classes on the "off" days.  I will not interact with other teachers - barely interact with administration - and only be familiar with juniors and seniors.  Yes, the subjects I now teach, I am truly passionate about... but my sphere of influence has dramatically decreased.

This evening during the Principal's introduction of teachers... it was quite apparent who are "popular" among students --- and with total reason.  Loud claps, hurrahs and cheers were elicited when the Algebra teacher, Biology teacher, and World Views teacher names were called.  And at one time - a couple of years ago, I was  a recipient of that kind student applause.  But this year, there was the token recognition at the name of "Mrs. Totoro" while the principal continued on.  I always knew I was replaceable... I suppose I had hoped that I would not be forgettable.

This sounds so narcissistic of me - and I hate that.  I am thrilled that other teachers have come to replace me.  I am honored that my lesson plans, syllabi and handouts have made it easy to pass on that responsibility to someone else. I am glad that my peers are loved and honored by the students.  I am excited to have a some personal time to devote to other interests.  I suppose that I am just mourning the fact that this time in my life is coming to a close.  And perhaps I am realizing for the first time that ... I really am a teacher, despite the lack of certification.  For I do not think I would miss the hustle and bustle of back-to-school if I were not.

1 comment:

  1. Retirement really is a tough decision, if you love what you're doing, as you do. There is such a pull toward staying within a cozy community, and being in the center of it. Maybe with your free time to explore your other dreams this year, you might discover that you miss the heavier teaching load, and really do want to teach more. This year will be the acid test.