I suspect that I'll reflect on this decision throughout the next year at significant school-related times. I still find it difficult to imagine how I could go from 100 to 0 in a matter of days when it came to my investment in classroom teaching. It seems like on a Monday I was 100% all-in for the school year ahead and by Friday, I had decided to end my teaching career. I didn't imagine the end this way--I thought it would be a more gradual change.
Why such a dramatic change in short time?
There's no denying that the pandemic threat of illness and potential death was the single greatest determinant in this decision. I have too much to look forward to and too much that I want to do to put myself in harm's way at this time. I want to avoid sickness and death as much as possible in the days ahead.
The pandemic response by decision makers at school also led to my decision. I thought of many ways to teach well during a pandemic, but my voice was hardly considered--I had little to no say in what would happen. That worried me as to return to school with no leadership or say about my work would make my work suffocating and frustrating at best. I could not go back under those circumstances.
34 Years Later
It's also true that I've taught for 34 years. I essentially worked around the clock for most of those 34-years trying to perfect my craft and education programs in ways that helped children become skilled, informed, and inspired lifelong learners. I loved the creativity involved in this work, and I was excited about every moment that a program resulted in student engagement, empowerment, and awesome education. I am happy about my career's efforts and focus. Last year, despite the pandemic, was one of the best teaching years in my career--so much of what I studied and imagined to be an excellent teaching/learning program occurred last year. The year ahead's limitations would prohibit almost everything that I believe connects to awesome teaching and learning--I could not put myself in that position at this time. I would be too frustrated, and I would literally have to work too much to be satisfied with what I could do. I'm sure that if I was a younger teacher, I would have made it work because my family relied on my salary during those years, and I had to work. Now, due to my age and years of service, I could retire.
Called in a New Direction
I tend to listen to the signs all around me and within me when I make a decision. I do believe that we get signs and nudges from the universe as to where we should travel. I have listened to and heeded those signs throughout my life with no regret. I remember when my husband of 32 years called me from across the country at 5 a.m. one morning long before we were married--I saw that call as a sign. Also early life love of children and enthusiasm about school were the signs that led me to teaching. I tell my children that they were dreams before they were born, and that's true, I dreamed of having children from my earliest days--I always wanted to be a mother. And more specifically, usually all the activities I forwarded in school were inspired from the world around me including the news, nature, science, the teaching community, the children's words and expressions. This decision too has been informed by the world around me including my 90-year-old parents who I desire to spend more time with, my sons who I want to see and support more, my home which I want to update and improve, and the world which I want to contribute to in new and valuable ways.
It's sad to say goodbye to the school community. There's a bit of guilt at jumping ship during this difficult time in school life, but I'm confident that the school I left is in the great hands of talented, creative, and committed educators. Most changes in my life have been more gradual and expected. This is perhaps the first big change that has been more spontaneous and unexpected, but overall, the change is right. I am excited to see what the next steps will bring.