No Fingerprints for Me


An amazing thing happened today.

I was given a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.  By my district.

This is a win-win-win.  It really is!

The District gets rid of an expensive older teacher who absolutely refuses to drink the Kool Aid and simply follow the nice shiny boxed kit.  They relieve themselves of the frustration of having to deal with an unhappy teacher who keeps pointing out that the Emperor is buck naked.

The Principal gets to stop living in fear of one crabby old lady.  He gets to carry on his campaign to insure that our school is staffed with the very youngest and least experienced candidates possible.  He gets rid of the thorn in his side that just won’t go stop sticking him.

And me?

I get to let go of the anger, the frustration, the fear.  I get to walk away from a place that gave me intense joy and a sense of accomplishment for 18 years, but now gives me only a sense  of sorrow and failure.

I get to give up the rubrics, the testing, the formative and summative assessments. I get to stop trying to choke down the Kool Aid.

I get my pension, far far less than what I’d once hoped for.  I get my sense of peace back. My sense of myself. My ability to once again love my days.

I get September days.  The beach when it is quiet.

I get peace at last.

And what is lost, in this oh-so-common maneuver where the old educators are pushed and prodded aside?

Well.  My District loses me.  And that is a lot.  They lose a smart, eager, dedicated, loving and very skilled teacher.

My school loses five years of classes that know how to work together. Five years of kids who can cooperate and share and show respect.

They lose the love and the laughter that fills my little room.  My school loses at least five years of having one strong teacher who can handle and support and encourage those angry/defiant/anxious kids who need a special hand.  My school loses me.

And me?

I lose the love of 125 kids who I will never know. I lose the chance to teach about the American Revolution.  I lose the laughter, the hugs, the smiles in the morning. I lose the birthday cards, “To an awesome teacher!” and the little gifts and the sweet emails that tell me “You were funny in math today.”

I lose Read Aloud.  And morning meeting.

I lose my identify as a teacher.

I lose the sense of worth that I got when I rode on the bus to a field trip, and the parents were awed by my gentle control of the crowd.

I lose years of learning and growing and improving my craft. I lose professional development.

I lose.

But the time has clearly come.

I can’t stay, and they can’t keep me.

I move toward my retirement from teaching with a sense of hope and relief.

Let the next adventure begin.

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20 responses to this post.

  1. Time to write — stories, novels, essays, whatever you want. They lose (big time), not you.

    Reply

    • Thinking of a book: “True Stories from the Front LInes; a teacher’s life.” What do you think?

      Reply

      • Posted by 2old2tch on May 31, 2015 at 7:32 pm

        Start writing now. Write all those vignettes that come to mind, the happy ones and the frustrating ones. Maybe you can help people understand why we hang on to teaching in the face of blatant idiocy and abuse. It is so sad to see good schools devolve into rigid gotcha institutions. Show how all we have to do is go into our rooms and shut the doors to lose ourselves in the excitement and the reward of watching children learn. I don’t think there is a teacher alive who hasn’t mentioned the incredible rush it is to watch the light go on in a child’s eyes.

      • What great inspiration! I will try…..

      • I can’t wait to read it!

      • Posted by 2old2tch on June 1, 2015 at 12:03 pm

        Maybe just , “A Teacher’s Life.” Start with the fun stuff, the rewarding stuff and add in the increasing challenges as you move on. Kind of like what you probably ran into as the years went by. I know how valuable a supportive administration can be, and you may have met other less collegial administrators over the years, but I wonder if your story can be woven into a timeline that shows the demise of teaching, as you know it, unfolding without you telling us. Just show us. I’m sure you have heard if not used the expression, “Show me, don’t tell me,” when helping kids with their writing.

      • You have summed up exactly what it is that I have in mind! Perfectly done!

      • Posted by 2old2tch on June 2, 2015 at 12:26 pm

        It was really quite presumptuous of me to tell you how to go about your business. I’m glad you took it in the spirit I intended. I got so excited about your project that I couldn’t keep my mouth shut!

      • Posted by Kat on June 3, 2015 at 3:31 am

        Yes! Do it. Your perspectives on this issue are SO credible! You’re not alone; many teachers and parents support your views.

  2. Posted by 2old2tch on May 28, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    I hope you really feel the relief of having them get rid of you “gracefully.” Keep blogging, please.

    Reply

    • Thank you! I am still very much in shock…..trying to come to terms with my new reality……

      Reply

      • Posted by 2old2tch on May 31, 2015 at 7:46 pm

        Don’t just disappear quietly. You can exit without ceding your integrity and without allowing them to create a false narrative. The district is moving in a direction that is antithetical to what you believe about good teaching. They no longer value your experience, so it is expedient that you part ways. I hope they sweetened the pot.

      • I wish the pot was sweetened; its kind of just there. I am considering how best to control the departure narrative….

  3. (sigh) You’ll still teach us online, won’t you?

    😦

    Reply

  4. Posted by Kat on May 29, 2015 at 3:36 am

    Surely, you’re much too young to retire already! I hope all of this went down fairly. In any case, I am feeling some envy for the freedom you’ll have to pursue something new. (Teaching is fulfilling but also stressful when you’re good at it.)

    Reply

    • Ah, Kat…..I agree that I am too young, and it certainly did not go down fairly. On the other hand, how wonderful and exciting to have these new opportunities. Trying to keep my eye on the really great change in my fortunes that this represents!

      Reply

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