In just four days I will be officially retired from the career I chose when I was in 8th grade. I feel like I am writing my professional last will and testament. I loved my job, and I want to bequeath my love for my work to you, my readers. Yet for all that love, I AM excited to move on.
It took me many years, many obstacles, and much encouragement from a variety of unlikely supporters to reach my goals, but I did reach them. My teaching career has been my life for nearly 25 years. Now I prepare to retire from being paid to do what I love, to just doing what I love.
I remember laying in my bed at night as a child trying to bring my paisley curtains into focus, making up stories about the fuzzy shapes I could barely see as I dreamed about growing up and being a teacher.
I wanted to help change the world. I wanted to help people who were not as well off as I thought I was. I thought I might even want to work with children who spoke Spanish. Working with Spanish-speaking children was one of those RANDOM thoughts out of nowhere. I lived in Indiana where almost everybody with whom I came in contact spoke only English and had the same English, northern European roots I did.
I ended up in Central California at age 33, still with no degree to teach, but there were finally some folks around me that spoke Spanish. In fact, more people spoke Spanish than English in Ivanhoe, California where we moved. I eventually had the privilege of being a bilingual teacher. Trust me, the students that I dreamed about teaching when I was in 8th grade had just as much to teach me as I had to teach them.
When I moved into administration and worked at the County Office of Education, I had a brand new learning curve to tackle. My new job involved mostly staying current in the ever-changing, frantic-paced field of education so that I would have something of value to offer teachers. As usual, I learned much more from teaching than my teachers learned from me, but that is the way of it. If you want to learn, try to teaching.
In four days I will leave the frantic pace of public education behind for something that MAY be more relaxed. At this point in time, I can’t visualize RELAXED because I have so much to do in the next four days. I have two more schools for Williams’ visits. I have reports to write. I have a day or professional development to prepare. My computer is loaded with old files that need to be cleaned out. My office is still not completely packed. AND……………………………………
At home my husband wants to pain the office before we get two more bookcases to house all my treasures. I talked him out of new flooring and a door instead of a window to be finished before Thursday. I don’t have a place cleared out for my 11 years of consulting STUFF. I hate to throw ANYTHING away! I tried to give Jennifer my notes on school improvement from 2002 so I wouldn’t have to throw away a tree, but for some reason she didn’t want them. I’ve buried a lot of dead trees since I made the decision last month to retire.
Then my husband comes in and says, “I’ll help you. We can put everything in the garage (the kiss of death) and go shopping for bookcases this week-end. We can get to it TOMORROW!”
OK I’m getting it. TOMORROW. “Let’s sit down and have a cup of coffee. Want to go for a walk?”
“It’s too dark. You can take a walk TOMORROW. Will they get mad if you go in a little late?”
THIS IS GOING TO TAKE SOME GETTING USED TO…BUT MAYBE NOT MUCH.
So back to my bequeathal. What I wish for you is that you love to learn. I plan to learn something new and turn around and teach it to someone else as long as I live. A little education will never hurt you. Whether you choose to earn a degree in the next two to four years or NOT, just remember that either way you will still be two to four years older at the end of the journey. (And soon you will be retired!!!) With an education you have options, skills and networks of professional friends. Without it you don’t, but you are still older.
So here’s to learning – even in RETIREMENT.
But it may have to wait until TOMORROW!