Retirement is a beautiful thing: No worries, no deadlines, no early mornings, no conflicts. But, there is a bit of a budget restriction. When the last child headed off to college (number 5, I might add), it did pose a bit of a challenge. The bank statement did not show what we needed. In addition, I had been homeschooling and tutoring regularly (which I loved ) but I really missed the classes, the games, the interactions. I guess I could say that among many, I was a beloved teacher. That was a genuinely warm and gratifying feeling. I was appreciated for my efforts and valued for the care that I gave my students and their learning.
We downsized after the little one went to college. We built a house out in the country. I accepted a position in the next state in a brand new high school to teach again. I relished the idea but it scared the crap out of me at the same time. Would they like me? Could I still do it? Did I remember? It had to be like riding a bike, right? Next thing we knew, my son announced that he would be marrying in Scotland, of all places, on September first! Now, let’s think: We were moving in October, I was starting a new job in August, he was getting married in September….how was I going to survive all of this?
Well, looking back, it worked. I did have a 45 minute commute to my new school which really put a cramp in my pickleball playing ;). But, I enjoyed first semester tremendously. I must say that it took me quite a bit to ‘get back in the saddle’, shall we say. I had to remember the websites that I used to use, the tricks that I had up my sleeve , and how to interact with a classroom of kids again. It turned out that I had the best kids that you could ask for….it almost felt like they were hand-picked to help me acclimate again. I had left everything at my old school, never anticipating going back!
After that semester came a new set of students for second semester as we are on block scheduling. I was very nervous, but thanks to those kids first semester, I had regained my confidence. It was a very different group of kids and I was not quite prepared. But we were getting in to a groove when Covid-19 reared its ugly head. This was unprecedented as all schools in the nation closed (maybe the whole world). Online learning had begun without warning, without training. I thought I had it made as I love working online. There are endless resources for the kids!!
Fast forward to today, June, 2020. Looking back at those 3 months beginning in March, I have learned a great deal about change in climate. I am not referring to weather but rather school climate. I have to really change the way I think for the fall as things aren’t what they were for the last 13 years. It was a bit painful, to be honest. I wasn’t supported. As a matter of fact, some kids wanted me OUT. I’m not sure why, but it caused quite a few tears, I must say. I asked myself on many occasions, ‘Why did you go back?” , ” Is this what you expected? “, and most of all, ” What could you have done differently?”. Well, I have answered the last question and have decided that the first two are irrelevant.
Sometimes, we teachers operate too much from the heart. Is that possible? We forget that those ‘ out there’ also have a heart and we must put ourselves in their shoes. What are they going through? What troubles do they have and how can we make sure that we don’t push too hard. Yes, we want them to learn, but sometimes them learning our subject matter has to take a back seat to learning about relationships, life, organization, respect, planning for the future, and themselves.
I leave you with this question: Think of a time in your career when you had expectations but your time with students didn’t live up to that expectation. Why?