There are days like today when I miss it.
I can’t tell people what to do or how to spend their lives.
I taught for 30 years and when I hit 64 I retired. I liked teaching a lot. I think I was good at it.
I can’t say I made every student and parent happy. But with 400 students a year and with 800 or so parents, what are the odds somebody will be unhappy. A couple of years I traveled to different schools and was evaluated by more people than I could recognize.
It ain’t easy making everybody happy.
So I didn’t.
Every couple of days I read one of those internet posts by a teacher who quit teaching because, well, it’s hard out there.
It really is.
I definitely get why some people leave. Or become administrators.
Now, truth is, I didn’t teach in the toughest of situations: A Chicago suburban district and all.
But there were days.
And besides. I know lots of teachers who teach every day in really tough situations. And they are great. And they do great things. And they’re not going anywhere but into a classroom tomorrow. And nobody is making them do it. Or keeping them from doing it.
After 30 years and 64 years of age in a K-5 art room, it was time. I tell people, “My head was still in it, but the back was giving out.”
But I wasn’t quitting. Or opting out. I was just retiring.
Sometimes a teacher would come to me when I was the union president and rant about something or other. And they were right to be angry.
“Let’s file a grievance,” I would say.
“I don’t want to cause trouble,” they would say.
I would laugh and say, ” We’re adults. We’re a union. We don’t get in trouble. Hell, we make trouble.”
Like I said. I have been reading these posts about teachers leaving. I feel bad about it. And I totally get it. I’m not making judgments.
But I just know too many folks who head in every day and are kicking it. And negotiating the bureaucratic initials, the political demands, the kids in need, the parents who care and the ones who don’t and they love the intellectual challenge of figuring out every day what teaching and learning is all about.
And there are days like today when I miss it.