I have recently celebrated my decision to step aside from a 24-year teaching career. Officially I am pegged as retired. I care less and less for that word. The term implies an individual is disinterested in work. That’s not true at all for me. I prefer to think of it as “moving on” to something new and different.
And yes, I’ve heard many “cutesie” retirement jokes and terms. Honestly, I am not amused. I haven’t been turned out to pasture, I merely have the opportunity to do many of the things I’ve not had time to do. Leaving my teaching career was not an easy decision. After teaching high school English for almost a quarter of a century, I still enjoyed interacting with the kids and sharing my passion for writing and literature. What I grew weary of was…well, let’s just say I live in a state where the governor knows more about public education than anyone else despite never having set foot into a public education institution for his own education and also needed several attempts to pass the Bar Exam. But I digress.
I worked hard as a teacher. Why? Because it’s how I was taught to work; I loved my field, and my students deserved my best effort. I know that teachers are stereotyped as fleeing the building on the heels of the students daily, and there are some, but the vast majority of my colleagues are dedicated to their craft. Week after week I put in countless hours nights and weekends doing research on educational practice, teaching myself new technology, preparing new and interesting lessons, and developing materials. Did I receive payment for my time outside of the classroom? No. Did I ever complain? No, I really didn’t because that’s the job. I’m not looking for a pat on the back; I’m just telling you how it was for me.
Teaching was my second career. I spent several years in the financial industry prior to teaching. It was not a stellar experience. Were there inadequate managers? Yes. Did I spend time trying to look busy because I didn’t have enough work to do? Yes. Were my co-workers all pleasant? Heck, no. Did everyone work hard all day? Yeah, right. Was I bored out of my mind? Every day.
I was never bored as a teacher. Each day was promising. Was each day a good day? No, but the bad days were few. Did all of my colleagues work hard? No, but most did. Did some folks phone it in? Yes. Were all of the administrators efficient, intelligent and inspiring? Goodness, no. Essentially, teaching is similar to any other work microcosm. There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Truly, I would love to see any teacher basher try to teach for one day…oh yeah, that individual would have to lesson plan, create materials, incorporate technology, and adhere to the Common Core standards. Don’t know what those are? Study up because at the end of the day your students will be tested and your evaluation will be based on that.
So yes, I have stepped away from teaching. I look forward to other challenges and writing opportunities. I’ve set my sights to new and exciting pursuits. But you will have to wait to hear more about that. In the meantime, I have a house that needs to be prepped for…