I retired from teaching almost two years ago.
It wasn’t exactly a planned retirement. In fact, the decision came in mid May of my last year. It came after my evaluating administrator made it real clear that I was going to be rated as a bad teacher, even though for the previous 21 years I had only had great evaluations.
It came after the Principal at my school accidentally let it slip that I was on his short list of “old teachers who need to be eased out the door.”
The timing for me was good. My first child, my daughter, my teaching colleague, was due to deliver her first child. The problem of finding good childcare was on all of our minds.
When I realized that I was going to be the target of intense pressure to move my old fashioned ass out of our school, it wasn’t hard for me to decide to retire and take on the role of full time daycare provider for my new grandchild.
I made the move. The year ended. I left.
I took on the role of Nonni with love and joy and a huge sense of gratitude. I had never been able to be a stay at home Mom, and now I was able to give myself fully to the daily raising of a beloved child.
I miss teaching. I miss it so much.
I was a good teacher. I was a teacher who connected with kids. I loved my job. I loved my students, so much. I loved their humor, their warmth, their vulnerability.
I remember so many kids who made me smile. Kids who only wanted to sit beside me. Kids who thrived because I greeted them in the morning and asked them how last night’s game had gone.
I loved their sassiness, the way that they challenged me. I remember kids who sat in front of me with tears in their eyes as they said, with shaky voices, “Yeah, but I disagree.”
I loved helping them find the best parts of themselves. I remember the shy children who lead the morning meeting. I remember the unpopular kids who directed our class plays. I remember the moments when the very cool kids independently reached out to the struggling kids.
Every night, I dream of school. Every night. I dream of teaching. I dream of my colleagues and my friends. I dream of rooms full of smiling kids.
Every night I dream that someone is trying to keep me out of my classroom. Or that it is my last day of teaching, and I have to say goodbye to the kids, but in every dream there is no real way for me to do that.
I dream that I am on the outside of school, looking in at kids I loved so much. I dream that I am a substitute teacher, but that no one one knows I’m a “real” teacher inside. I see myself on the edges of my old life. I feel myself sobbing as I say goodbye to a line of children I once knew.
I love my new life. I am happy to be at home with Ellie.
But, oh, man. I so miss read aloud. And birthday songs. And recess. I so miss those moments when the kids light up about a history lesson.
I miss the social connections. I miss the afternoon game. I miss the greetings. The math lessons. I miss the bursting out laughing with 24 people who all share the joke.
I was a good teacher.
It should have lasted longer.