What I miss every day



“Hand in that homework or else!”

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.


36 thoughts on “What I miss every day

  1. I’ve little doubt you were a wonderful teacher. I am in charge of a swim team of 400 swimmers aged 5 to 18 and I love every day of teaching/coaching them. They keep me young so I know exactly what you mean. To leave it is one thing, but to leave early is hard to tolerate.
    Is there no where you could channel your skills. An after school club? You have still so much to give and you know it. Maybe it’s out there? As well as looking after your own next generation which I know must be a real joy.


    • Its hard, Tric. I am trying to reinvent myself as a freelance writer (I know you understand that!) Its hard to do the “almost but not quite a teacher” jobs. I am so so grateful to have my Ellie and (soon) her little brother to fill my days!


  2. Omg Karen! I am sure you were and are a great teacher!! No doubt corporations operate in a similar fashion with us old folk! Geez.


  3. Karen: Our twp kids enjoyed being in your class. You are an authentic person who cares. You foster a great environment. So whatever metrics the school was using to measure performance did not capture your essence. I could see you being a terrific trainer or educator of upcoming teachers.
    How about teaching at a local college? or serving as a mentor or consultant?


    • Great ideas! I need to stretch myself into those areas. Its tricky, though, because I no longer know what the world of education considers to be of value. I am struggling to grieve this loss and to reinvent myself in some way that makes me feel useful. I loved my classes, and got so much back from them (including your two great kids!)


  4. I have been battling with retirement also. School has changed so much even for me, a secretary. But alas I will do it in June and will sorely miss the people I work with. But more and more old timers like me are leaving, so I guess I can always have lunch with them. And of course as grandma to 9 I will have plenty to do with my family.


    • One of my dear friends, our longtime school secretary, retired last year. We are all part of that community of nurturing souls at a school. I wish you a lovely spring, and many heartfelt good wishes! And please remember this: there is NOTHING as great as hitting a beach or a lake in September when everyone is at school!!!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I didn’t mean to do that, although I sure did make ME cry. It’s so hard to give up something you love so much before you think you’re done….
      Thanks for your good thoughts!


      • I think you can and you have already, through Ellie for a start but you could volunteer. I work with adults who return to learning years later. We are always in need of volunteers to support on a one to one basis. Maybe there is a similar service near you? Or post an add on a noticeboard. Help a child over the summer months for free to make progress if they found school a struggle. You can’t waste your talents; you have so much to offer and so many could benefit. X

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Karen, it saddens me that you were made to feel less than as a teacher. A teacher who clearly made a difference in the everyday lives of children. I hope that you find a way to channel all of the wonderful qualities & positive attributes you possess.


    • Lynn, you are so kind! Thank you! I didn’t shift as easily or willingly as I should have, and made a lot of mistakes in understanding my new administrators. It all worked out, and I am loving being home with Ellie. It’s just that sometimes I really miss being in the middle of a huddle of ten year olds!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You only taught one of my children, and he grew so much in your class–socially, academically, creatively. I wished my other children were so fortunate to work with you for an academic year. My son, who was in your class, is flourishing–he is doing extremely well in school, he has solid friends, he takes on extra academic challenges in the classroom, he is a student council representative. He dominates on the sport fields and is the first to shake hands with opponents–win or lose–at the end of the game. He is a teenager–respectful, independent yet connected, curious and grounded. It takes a village, but the 5th grade year with you was memorable and instrumental in shaping his love for school and curiosity in the world. I’m so sad to hear the circumstances under which you left your classroom. It also makes me angry. Most of all, I hope you know how much you touched so many lives as everything my son learned that 5th grade year trickled down in our family to my younger children–all the positive feelings about school and the learning. I hope so much that you can find a new way–continued through your writing or through teaching in another forum—to pass on all of your passion.


    • Thank you so much for this wonderful message! You can’t imagine how much this means to me. One of the parts of teaching that was always so hard for me was the realization that once June hit, I had to “hand off ” my kids to new teachers. I had “Empty Nest” every summer for years! Please tell you son (oh, I’m sure curious…) Thank You from me! The kids gave me so much more than I gave them; that’s part of what I miss. You can’t imagine how empowering it is to make a lame joke and have 25 kids laugh! Or to get those morning grins and the little stories about home, sports, etc. My bucket was always full! Now its Ellie who gives me all that, and I am incredibly blessed to have her! But I sure miss “read aloud”….


  7. Very touching story can only imagine what you might be feeling as being in a job for a long time becomes a way of life and getting out of that routine is very upsetting but you have a treasure of memories that no one can take away from you and will remain with you forever so miss all those days and lovely people and send them love and light .i am sure you were a lovely teacher and the people you miss might be missing you as much😊


  8. Karen, this breaks my heart to read your story. You were treated abominably.

    If I were in your situation, yes, I’d try to look at the silver lining, the chance to be with your grandchild.

    But I’d also feel anger at the injustice of being found “wanting.” To be sure, your story triggers a hot button for me – the idea of being falsely accused. I’d be upset, I’d be angry, I’d resist. Then, at some point, I might also wonder, “What did I do (or not do) to contribute to the dismissal? In other words, I’d look for faults where there were none.

    Judging by the comments here, you were accomplished and loved. You epitomized what being a good teacher is all about. I hope you know that you did not deserve on iota of the brutal treatment at the hands of the administration.


    • Thanks, Maggie. I did bear some responsibility, because I failed to see it when our school moved from an open, collegial place to one that was ruled from the top down. I didn’t adapt and I have a really hard time keeping my mouth shut. But it was an unfair situation…and it sure did hurt!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I hear you in how hard it is. I ended up leaving in a nearly similar way. I have turned to the other profession I always had in the back of my mind and I am a part time Pastor of a small area church. But, I sometimes substitute teach and when I fill in for the special education teacher, I am often in classrooms with new teachers, and those same principals are not doing a very good job of checking on what the replacements are doing. There is one room that makes me cringe and that makes it much sadder. Enjoy that grandchild. I only wish I were close enough to do the same for mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This post got me thinking about the teacher I had in Grade 2. She was wonderful.

    I am sorry you were pushed out the door. That’s awful. And while you miss teaching, just think of all the wonderful things you’ll be able to teach your granddaughter. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. OMG! This makes me quite cross to think you were not valued because of age. I am not quite in that boat yet (at 47) but I have a very good friend and colleague who is. She is an excellent teacher – more professional and passionate about teaching than anyone else I know. She is 72 and still going strong – of mind and body. But – because of her age she cannot pick up a long term contract. Nobody wants to touch her, just in case she falls off her perch. They all say how wonderful she is and what a great teacher she is, then overlook her for contracts. It is so wrong. Thank you for opening up and sharing your experiences. I wish you all the best.


  12. I’m so sorry that you lost this job that you love! That sort of loss is agony. I know it’s not the same, but I was classically trained on the piano and loved it, but due to injuries/disability I can no longer play the music I love. Perhaps the pain and regret I’ve felt is somewhat similar to what you feel. It sounds like you were so great at what you did, and I can’t understand why the school would have let you go. I am sure you miss teaching a lot! I was just writing about how hard it’s been for me to miss my own past.
    I hope that time brings you more comfort…but I know it can’t undo what happened. I really am sorry!


    • Oh, but, my dear, life keeps on going anyway, doesn’t it? I am having fun and some angst and a lot of excitement as I investigate new challenges. I’m writing, I’m more politically active. I’m learning to bake…and studying Italian. Keep going. Keep learning. Keep reinventing yourself. The key is to look back once in a while, let out a roar of anger, then turn your head forward into the future. Sending a cyber hug. “Nonni”

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so glad you’re finding new things and still enjoying life! I’m sure you enjoy getting to be with your grandbaby. And it’s so true; over time we mourn, we change, we move on, and in good recovery situations we learn acceptance and how to embrace life again – that’s been my experience at least 🙂 

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Once a teacher, always a teacher. This is what I think of your remembering the teaching days. We have to retire sometime. I know what you mean, and you lasted longer than I did. I retired around 52. I didn’t want to stay on because my evaluators were insisting that in the Fall I would have people there watching me from day one. I didn’t want to stay on if they thought I was not a good teacher. In my heart, I know I was good, patient, and that many loved me. When it was time to go, I concluded to just leave. I left after working on records and finishing what needed to be completed. Teaching is work. The memories will be with us forever. Odd how they release the older ones, for fresh faces that aren’t as expensive.


    • Oh, I’m sorry that you went through this. Its just such a bad system, making the most experienced people feel useless instead of wise…But we did what was right. We did a good thing. And children remember us. that’s what counts!


  14. Love this! I am going into my fourth year of teaching and love it! I have no children of my own so those children that I teach become “my children.”


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