Tuesday, August 04, 2020

The next teacher

I arrived at school to clean out my classroom. I was greeted by a nice sign, a bottle of wine and a beautiful orchid from the school staff. That was so nice! I was also greeted by a room that was super clean and organized for the next person. That was awesome too. As I went through cabinets and drawers to retrieve a few personal items, I thought back 34 years to when I inherited a fourth grade classroom in the same school. I was greeted with piles and piles of supplies. I held onto those supplies for a year or two, then eventually replaced what was there with new supplies that represented my knowledge and craft. 

Thirty-four years ago, I was very excited to be a teacher. I had a zillion ideas about what I would do, and I began working on what would become a never-ending list of ways to improve my craft and teach better. I chronicled my first year for a professor at Boston University who eventually used my notes for one chapter of his book on first year teachers--it's nice to have that chapter to refer to so many years later.

I am happy to leave my wonderful, clean room, terrific supplies, and wonderful fifth grade team for a new teacher. I suspect that the new teacher will be like I was, thrilled to use her creativity, knowledge, and will to take care of and teach young children. I am just as excited for the students as while a new teacher may not be as seasoned, their enthusiasm and commitment make up for that--I'm sure the new person will bring lots of new ideas and great energy to the job.

Once this COVID-19 threat is passed, I'm sure our school will regain it's terrific spirit and wonderful service to children and families. In the meantime, people will do the best that they can amidst all the limitations and rules. 

As for me, it was cathartic to go in there and put the final touches on the clean-up. Now it's officially time to embark on the next chapter, a chapter that will include greater focus on my immediate and extended family, catch-up with regard to what seems like a zillion house chores that I've put off for a long time, and hopefully a few adventures too--for now adventures that fit pandemic limitations and later adventures that are much more free and exciting. 

For those teachers still in the field, please take care of yourselves. Know that you are not super-human, but you are greatly skilled when it comes to education. Keep top-notch education at the forefront of your professional work, and understand the importance of your positions as nation builders. I'll be rooting and advocating for you from the sidelines. I know how important you are to our nation's children and our nation in general. We need you and we need to treat you with utmost respect and support as you do this important work. Onward.