Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When the Teacher Leaves the Classroom




A Teaching Life--well lived, filled with activity and stimulation and chatter, and behaviors...oh, the behaviors! Kids need lots and lots of stimulation, physical movement, interactive time, and time to digest and question what they've learned. I love my profession; I always have. It has never, ever been a job to me.

Teaching and learning are the things I know best, and so I've been gifted with the career of my dreams. I've lavished through 32 seasons of teaching, living my life with the opening and closing of the classroom door. I've sat on the beach and dreamed up units of study in reading and writing in the summertime...envisioned lessons and the activities that kids would love, so that school would not be a burden for them to endure.

And then, in late August and early September, I'd race to the teachers' store, and buy up name tags and bulletin board paper (the school's colors were always too bland) and borders and desktags and books and notebooks (I was finicky about that too.). I bought button collections and dreidels and straws and cotton balls and even a miniature zoo! But most of all...I bought books! Lots and Lots of books--and truth be known (don't tell my husband), I'm still buying them to put the just right book in the hands of my kids.

And throughout the years, I've worked hard to keep the engines moving. Writing has always been my passion. And because of that, I've prided myself in making sure they filled up at least one notebook, and most of the time two...with poetry and stories and expert information that they'd gleaned because they had a passion they chose to write about. I have loved the kids who were reportedly 'blocked'...they're the ones who'd convinced themselves and their parents they couldn't write.
I'd leave them alone, ignore their protests, and let them do the best they could. And as soon as they started to pop...much like the blooms on a tree--I'd move in quickly to lather on the praise, and then shrink back into the shadows again.

At the beginning of this year, I had no plans of retiring. And if you'd asked me, I'd probably give you a look. You see, I always wanted to go out on my own terms, never appearing old or impassioned, I simply wanted to sneak out the side door on the last day with the kids. I knew that day would come. We all know. My decision to leave...comes with kids at the heart of it. I will never be that teacher that everyone groans about. I will never shortchange a class because my energy or enthusiasm can not match theirs. A teacher needs to know...in his/her heart, when that gifted period of teaching begins to show a bit of wear and tear.

So...before I become-


I have decided to take this time in my life to drop my keys on the table, turn my kids over to next year's super star...and take the opportunity to leave. I haven't really thought about this day...about what it will be like not to be surrounded constantly by a circle of kids. But honestly, I've been opening that classroom door since I was five years old, and now, it's time to enjoy a little sun on my face, the flexibility to enjoy family, friends, and to finally devote some time to my own writing...and the plethora of other things that I most enjoy in life!





From mouths of babes...

Ode to Sunshine
by Alex W., one of the many talented students I've been so blessed to know!

An ode to the sunshine
brightening my day
banishing the darkness,
to a place far, far away.
Ode to the sunshine 
yellow among blue,
warming the treetops,
evaporating the dwindling dew.
Ode to sunshine
making colors brighter, 
tanning my arms,
making t-shirts whiter.
Ode to sunshine
brightening my day,
banishing the darkness,
tucking the shadows away.


The shadows--the years, well they have caught up with me, but...I am not feeling my age at all. I have my health and a lifetime of memories. I am so ever grateful for all that I've been given in my Newtown teaching career...most of all for the friendships I've forged. Truth is, when you teach with champions, it's hard not to want to rise to the level of that cream! 



Friday, April 3, 2015

Mud Shake: More Lessons from a Golden Mud-making Machine



So today, as I battle this bleak and dreary, ugly pre-Easter day, I have to remember--a small dose of gratitude, and not this awful crankiness, is what I really need.

Looking in the rearview mirror is usually the best strategy I've got. After all, any of us who live
in a country like ours, ought to get down and kiss the ground beneath our feet. (I'm hearing my dad's voice in my head as I write this!) 

Luxury problems...my life is filled with them! And really, whose isn't? What I do with them, and how I live with acceptance of them is really the name of the game.

But in past years, I have had a cup that has overflowed! I've had jelly beans and Easter egg hunts, little cuddly babies of my own. And as my kids grew into little kids, I chased them around in the backyard, and took them on hikes in their boots, in those cold first days of Spring.

I want all my kids to be home. I want that huge Easter celebration, much like the ones I've had in the past. I want that excitement of the nest filling up again.

But, what I think I need is downtime, a book, a dog, time with my long-time boyfriend,
and a chance to sit at the dinner table and chat with at least one of my kids.

And that, I will have.

It's been a long hard winter, and now, the first real signs of Spring that I've found,
is the giant mud puddle my dog loves to lay in and the tiny tick I found on his forehead
today. But, as I look closer, dig deeper...and spend a little time outdoors--

I hear a very loud vociferous chorus, the birds, playing off the stand of trees--my own pine forest in my backyard. A gaggle of geese honk above me, searching and finding the pond just below my yard. And that smell...the earthiness of mud and worms. Well, as dumb as that sounds, it's then I finally, I succumb.

Like that big old muddy golden of mine...I will shake off what isn't to be for right now, and be grateful for all I've been given today. And then--I will enjoy our much smaller group tomorrow--that little Easter party of nine!




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