Teacher Appreciation — My Ass
Teaching is the only profession where you steal supplies from home and take them to work. ~Unknown
This year I celebrated teacher appreciation month by leaving the profession for good.
I knew without a doubt the time had come. I didn’t get the kids. And worse, I didn’t want to try to “get them.”
Apathy was new to me, and made it difficult to drag myself to work. It required every ounce of strength, and once there, I watched the clock like the bad kid in Catholic school. Oh, I do remember those days.
Yep! Time to go.
“It’s not you, it’s me.” Is a popular phrase used to dump an unwanted love interest.
“It’s not just me, it’s you too,” is what I’m saying about dumping my career of twenty five years.
I made up my mind in January. And, every school day since, I have received validation that I made the right decision. My work experience as a fifth grade special education teacher ranges from dealing with traumatized, and sometimes violent students, to communicating with out of control parents, who make threatening phone calls and write nasty emails.
I have a Master’s in Education from a mediocre university. I’m not a mental health care specialist. Therapists, phycologists, social workers, behavioral specialists, counselors are what is required to navigate the cluster fuck known as public education. And, that’s for the faculty. God knows what the kids need? Not a teacher who is licensed to carry a weapon.
Lucky for me, the school secretary transferred one of the worst parent calls of the school year to the wrong teacher, with my last name. This teacher was berated for undefined wrongs, called filthy names, and hung up on. The next morning, the teacher told me that she had felt frightened and threatened. She didn’t hang up because she had a similar parent “out to get her” too. It was shocking and she wasn’t sure what was going on. Coincidentally, her kindergarten student had the same first name as the fifth grade student who screamed insults at her in the background.
(If the previous paragraph doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t sweat it. None of it makes sense to me either.)
The principal called the mom to find out why she was so angry with me, and mom “didn’t remember.” Obviously, she is a card carrying member of the Marjorie Taylor Green fan club.
The really weird part of this encounter, is on the last day of school I ran into the mother in the office and she was super cordial. Or, sober?
My principal asked me to write a retirement letter to the district so she could advertise for my position. I wrote the letter immediately. No chance to change my mind.
The position has been posted for nearly six months. Not one applicant!
When I spoke to my financial adviser about retirement he recommended that I work one more year.
“Friend, put your bar graph and pie chart away. If I wait one more year there will be nothing left of me to enjoy my retirement.”
I reflected on times I have made big changes in my life. Some were scary, some were exciting, and some I made because I didn’t have a choice. And, at least one big change saved my life.
I have a varied past to show me that I will be fine. Better than fine.
Transition usually results in transformation.
My hope is that leaving the stress and crazy behind will be transformative. Gradually progressing from jaded to joyous, from exhausted to enthusiastic, from cynical to curious.
I considered throwing myself a retirement party, and inviting friends who have endured endless bitching and moaning about my job. However, I didn’t feel like celebrating something I barely survived.
Instead, I’m throwing my energy into activities and events I enjoy and will now have the time and vigor to explore.
Like writing. I want to devote effort in to becoming a better writer and publish my novel. Living the writer’s life.
Like traveling. First stop on the world tour is a retreat on Bimini and swimming with dolphins. If that doesn’t smooth the rough edges off nothing will.
Like focusing on health and wellness. I have allowed myself to put on weight and lose the level of fitness I know is beneficial to my wellbeing. Cortisol and wine. A bad combo.
I made it to the finish line by the skin of my teeth.