I’m on Teacher Time

So, I retired 11 months ago from many years of teaching in the public school system.  Many reasons why, some of which can be found on my blog, but that’s not todays story.  Today I need to talk about “Teacher Time”.  You see, teachers have their own time frame —

the day starts at 7:00 am ( or 8:45 if you’re an elementary teacher) and ends, well, you know, it really never ends.

You pee every 90 minutes, and you can pee, wipe, wash your hands and check your lipstick in 3 minutes, getting you back to your room before the kids return from wherever the bell sent them.

You mark grilled cheese and tomato soup days on your calendar.

You wake before light.

You start, progress and finish everything in 10 weeks or less.  (This can cause problems if you go into the “normal” work world where people set, go figure, realistic timeframe goals for projects)

You have a “snowday” setting on your alarm clock

You know, EXACTLY, how many minutes it takes to get to work, you can figure in lights, stopped busses, deer running across the road and fog, and can still get there in time to have a cup of coffee.

Christmas break is Christmas break, no matter who wants to call it “winter” break.

Same goes for Easter.

Summer starts the day the last bell rings.

Which brings me to my point.  I have left many of the teacher time obsessions behind.  I make grilled cheese whenever I want, pee when I need to and start my day after I check the computer, have a cup of coffee and knit at least one row on whatever I’m working on at the moment.

But the Summer break thing haunts me.  I’ve been working with a non profit since the minute I retired ( the actual minute) and its been 11 months without a break.  Part time work for sure, nice, self directed schedule that only gets stressful occasionally, but steady.  And I am feeling that teacher time pull that says “you need a break”.   Not sure how I’m going to make my bosses understand….

 

This is not gonna make me many friends

So, I woke up yesterday, Friday morning, around 7:00 am.  Decadent.  In the life of a high school  teacher being able to sleep until 7 is unheard of….and you wake up at 5 for so long, that even holidays and weekends find you looking out the window at 5ish….

So, anyway.  I woke up at 7 am. and was immediately, IMMEDIATELY hit with the realization that it was, for my still-teaching friends, the last real day of their spring break.  Of course they still have today and tomorrow, but those don’t really count.  Everyone will be going to the grocery store or doing laundry or unpacking those Spring Break Vacation suitcases, longingly tossing their flip flops into their closets. (Because, Lord knows, you cant be an efficient teacher in flip flops, gotta keep those toes covered to keep the knowledge from sliding out your toenails…but I regress.)

So, it hit me that  yesterday was their last day.  And then I cracked up.  Laughed out loud.  Called my husband ( at work, poor sap) to tell him that “this time last year I was probably in a deep funk thinking about how I had to go back to work in three days”. Seriously, this retirement gig has turned me into a giggling idiot who can’t believe her good fortune.  I don’t have to go to work on Monday!!!!

Now , don’t hate me.  Money is an issue, a little bit.  The retirement pay is okay, but I still have to supplement income so we don’t have to make too many lifestyle changes (I am not giving up Friday evenings on our favorite pub’s deck with a mojito and nachos) . I have found two “post retirement careers” that allow me creative license and flexibility.  I am employed by a wonderful non profit that allows me to continue my passion for advocacy for children’s issues  and by an art and science workshop that challenges me to develop activities that inspire creativity while at the same time teaching core science concepts ( that left brain-right brain thing).

But, man, I am so stoked that I don’t have to put on my big girl panties and go to school on Monday. 

Seriously? Im not sure I have the fight in me

In the course of a lifetime, or when you look at the world and all the battles and issues we need to fight or pray over or deal with — this is a little one.  But it ticked me off none the less. I just retired.  Took a pay cut, decided to suck it up and suck it in and get out of teaching.  AAAAhhhh.

We have a small ( emphasis SMALL) savinigs, could probably go 6 months if my husband suddenly lost all income.  We have a nice house and dont need to replace a car right now, so we shouldnt have too much trouble settling into this slightly more austere existance.  Sort of looking forward to coupons and sales and decision making…

So yesterday I get a letter from the company that holds our equity line.  We have used this, over the years, to help with 2 weddings, 3 college tuitions, 1 medical crisis with daughter and the break up of my sons relationship ( which left him raising a 5 month old by himself in a house he couldnt hardly afford WITH a second income from wife to be).   We’ve splurged a couple times and took vacations that we couldnt afford. Bought a piece of property at the beach (impulse buy, probably not smart, no house or bulkhead, not allowed to camp there, but hey I have land at the beach) Have a higher balance on there then we would like but we pay the bill and then some every month.  The balance of just over $50,000 on the line was ( WAS) our back up.  We like knowing there is a hunk of money laying there if we NEED it — you know, grandchild needs something, refrigerator blows up, car breaks down….Then yesterday CHASE decides the value of our house has gone down and they are cutting the extra balance.  Cant borrow a penny more on that line.  HUH?  Everyone’s house value has gone down, and ours is still way higher than the amount we were okayed for…..and now I dont have 50000 in the wings just in case.  How is it possible for them to do  that?  they didnt look at our home or our life.  They decided from some office in New York that we could no longer count on the back up they had agreed to.  Ticked me off.  Husband is calling them today, but I know they will not change their plan.  Jerks. 

the new job

Oh man.  Today I went to a conference — sat with my new boss and presented information about the wonderful new nonprofit i am working with to school counselors.  This non profit works with children in the areas of conflict resolution/feelings/ bullying/social media …current issues that kids deal with.  I AM SO LUCKY!! When I decided to retire from teaching i got:  what are you going to do with your time?  You’ll be bored, noones going to hire you, you left teaching mid year.

Well NA NA NA NA BOO BOO!

I not only got hired, I got hired by a dynamic organization that is devoted solely to making the world a better place.  Priceless.  ( oh, and they pay good too)

 

Sorry, I just had to get that out.

uh oh

so one of the things Ive been looking forward to , in retirement, is gardening.  To keep my flower beds full of wonderfully scented blossoms….then today I went out back to check things out and pull a few dead branches out of the mulch.  And I remembered I hate gardening.  so I went inside and knit.  Oh well

16

16 days left to work in the public school system as a high school teacher.  After 22 years 9 months and 22 days (thats what they said) I am DONE.  Ive talked about why in earlier posts, but today I talk about how.  Ive been packing for a while.  My decision to retire early was made easier by the idiot administrator who said — in oral and written communication– that I should remove all personal items from my room.  Noone needed to see the pictures of my granddaughter reading a book ( three years old, I teach early ch ildhood education to high school students, seemed appropriate to me), small spongebob and mickey mouse figures balanced on the top ledge of my desk, an accent lamp circled with pictures of students and grandchildren….that was all deemed to be clutter, i was told to edit and toss.  So, i don’t have to worry about my “stuff” when I leave., it has been safely carted home.

So now i spend every spare moment ( hahahahaha, teachers know how few of those there are) going through files and bookshelves.  My copy of Very Hungry Catepillar is going with me, as well as my lesson plans.  Thats right.  I am not leaving my lesson plans for the new teacher.  There, I said it.  I am leaving with my expertise, experience, history , scope and sequene and skill tucked under my arm, labeled 1,2,3,4 — correlates with the levels I teach.   Thats HOW I am leaving.  the Curriculum, videos, puppets, teacher guides and technology ( “take all student generated signs off the wall, the boss will want to know why you have technology and arent using it”)  will still be there, all bright and shiny, but the heart of the program will be gone.  Now, I know they will build it again, and it will be wonderful, it better be, my students deserve wonderful, but let them build it on their own == they devalued what I had done,  Im taking it with me.

Also, I am leaving a room adorned with paper chains, paper dolls, student generated “bully prevention posters” and cartoons on the wall……..let the admin tell my students why their work isnt appropriate for display.  And the printer is probably gonna be real low on ink, weve been producing a bit of technology based signage also.

pre retirement

been spending a lot – A LOT- of time thinking about my upcoming retirement.  Its coming earlier than I expected, but Ive always believed you listen to your heart and you will know what is right, and my heart, in many ways is telling me to get the hell out of public education NOW.  My health was suffering, my mood was a mess and i was being jerked around every which way but loose by the district office….so, even though noone who knew me ever thought Id walk mid year — I submitted my paperwork in December for a March 1 retirement .  I have slept like a baby every night since.  With the exception of the fact that I will miss my students terribly, and hate that I am leaving things unfinished with them, I have no regrets, no second thoughts, nothing but the knowledge that it is time.

However, with my impending retirement came the most awesome thing== administration is leaving me alone.  Im not being told to take student work off the wall or put a lid on the scrap paper bin.  Im not being ordered to buy a leather sign in book or take the cardboard off the top of the wooden cabinets.  Im teaching.  Im laughing  .  My students and I are learning from each other.  Laughter and conversation fills the room.  Computers are whizzing as they research their topics for the projects.  It is reminiscent of the best years of teaching I have had.  the fools that felt they needed to tell me what to do, to make the dog and pony show pretty, have gone on to other victims , and I am left to do what I do.  Teach.  The kind of teaching that has won me awards, has graduated scores of students who have become successful members of society, that has made me sought after for committees, standard writing, curriculum planning, praxis recomendations and a myriad of other professional tasks.  It feels good to sit and watch my students discover things, question things, speak their mind.

 

So to the bullheaded administrators that essentially made my professional life a living hell for the past year or so, thank you.  Thank you for reminding me of what teaching is supposed to be.  I go out with my head held high, my students aware that I am making a statement about respect and honesty and the knowledge that you’re gonna miss me. 

I however, will be at the beach, or at my business, or on the couch, eating bonbons.

that was unexpected

Going through a particularly strange time at work. Took my concerns, and the reason I am retiring in March, which is something NO good teacher ever does ( except me, and dont ever assume Im not a good teacher) to my suprientendant yesterday. I had told myself that if he refused to see me I was “taking it to the paper”, ready to tell the world about just how bad public education had become. But he didnt refuse. His secretary contacted me 10 minutes after I sent the original email asking for a meeting and offered me two dates to choose from. I chose the first one. Got to the meeting 2 minutes late ( one wrong turn in elesmere and you’re screwed) and was greeted by my suprientendent and our professional development head, they both had fresh white tablets and I had a two inch binder emblazened with the name of the person who is causing my early retreat from education. they sat on one side of the table , I on the other. Interestingly enough, the chair I was to sit in was cocked invitingly towards me — not pushed under the table. I notice those kind of things, it was like “hey cindy, come on in, sit down, chew the fat awhile”. His conference table is about 30 inches wide. Narrow. when you sit and face him you are maybe 18 inches away from his face if you lean in for effect. when I leaned in, he did not lean away. I noticed that too.

So after reminding him that we go way back, I sat on a committee that did not hire him for a principals job, we cried together at the funeral for a child… I told him, in no uncertain terms why I was leaving our district. I was going on two assumptions: either he knew how i had been treated and thought it was ok, or he didnt know. either way I had something to say.

He didnt know.

the suprientendent of the second biggest district in our state has the audacity to delegate work to his trusted staff and then doesnt micromanage them. Refreshing. However, in this case, unfortunate. His staff person has been bullying people for the past several years, ending the conversation with “and dont contact ______ or anyone else. I am the point person on this”.

This time, she picked the wrong person to bully. I am not your bitch, bitch.

And he apologized. the Suprientendant of the second largest district in our state apologized. Sincerely, i think.

That was unexpected. Refreshing.

About mommarocksstash
Im a wife, a mom, an awesome grammy…a teacher, a seamstress, fiber artist and art director. A scientist, an advocate. busy busy cindy.
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