I happen to share my birthday with two other English teacher friends--only one of whom is still in the classroom. Jana is a former student of mine and now a young and fabulous teacher at a local high school. The title of today’s blog post comes from Jana in her comment to me on Facebook this morning. Cherry was a colleague and has been a mentor, of sorts, to me as I made a transition, even if it's temporary, out of the classroom.
This birthday morning, I awoke to greetings from family and friends and to read a new blog post at Edweek; this post links to Learning to Muse and has caused a flurry of online dialogue this morning among my colleagues and friends. The post has also caused me to ask—am I lying to myself to think what I do now in public education matters because I am so passionate about teaching and learning? Is it a lie to tell myself if I still loved teaching I’d stay in the classroom “for the kids?”
A friend from graduate school, now an administrator in Georgia, asked: “I struggle, too…does it get any easier?” My reply: “I don’t know if it gets any easier. In a way I hope not because I don’t ever want to stop loving the classroom, even if I’m not there and especially if I ever return. My love of teaching inspires what I do daily and the input I provide to the field of public education. Tough, for sure.”
I had a telephone conversation and subsequent online conversation this week with another amazing English teacher who has been teaching for 20 years. He said to me: “I will simply look at this as a delay…Someday soon!”
Another friend, who spent 5 years in the classroom before pursuing other interests, encouraged me by stating “while you may have stepped away from the classroom for a time, you have not left education. Your work is vital, and its effects are far reaching—across many classrooms.”
Delicate balance. After reading the Edweek post, another friend and colleague, who spent 27 years in the classroom, commented: “We absolutely need the best teachers to remain in classrooms teaching our precious children. But, don’t we also want the best teachers helping negotiate and mediate all of the mandates and dictates that are being imposed on districts/schools/classrooms/teachers/students?
An anonymous educator who retired in May at the top of her game commented on my blog: “The worst thing is for teachers to leave when everyone else knows s/he's ready. What next for me? God knows. But, at least I carry with me the joys and successes no one can take away from me. Leave before everyone wants you to go. Hard to find that kind of high" in the real world. Finding something half as satisfying will be a challenge. What a wonderful journey!”
Life’s great balancing act. Indeed life is a journey and as I sign off to spend my birthday with my husband and sons, who just made me a delicious brunch, I’m grateful for family, friends, colleagues and others who are working daily to nurture children and create lovers of literature as I continue to do per my 8 year old son who gave me a Dr. Seuss inspired birthday card.