It’s official. I wasn’t quite ready. To be honest, I’d probably never have been ready to leave public education if someone hadn’t given me a kick in the rear.
Bittersweet. I’ve been teaching and coaching in some way or another since 1980. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do and now I’m officially retiring.
That word makes my chest hurt. Take a deep breath. It takes several long minutes, but I can hear the voice of reason and insight speaking.
“You don’t have to call it retirement. This is a reassignment. That’s it.”
You won’t be showing up in the coaching office every morning and staying late a lot of evenings. You won’t be meeting daily with teachers and sitting next to kids in class when you co-teach or model lessons.
No more booktalks with littles and bigs in the hallways, classrooms, parking lot or cafeteria. No more Monday morning convos with kids about what they did on the weekend. Gone are the high fives, hugs, handshakes, and fist bumps.
You won’t be there to hear the book club discussions, listen to your kindergarten small group read their first book from cover to cover or watch those third grade students blow the other grade levels away with their presentation for the living museum project. No more passing the tissue box when it comes to “that” part in The Crossover. No more talent shows, music concerts, 6th grade farewell assembly, culture fair or field day.
Right now it’s really hard to only think about all things you’ll miss. It’s terrible to think, “This is the last time I’ll be doing ______________.” The thought of packing up your office makes your stomach lurch. What will you do with all these picture books and novels? Will you read aloud to a bunch of lil’ scholars ever again?
Look, you’ve got to start thinking about the new stuff coming your way. Your new assignment is promising. The people you’ve met with already are excited. You’re scared, I know, but you can do this.
You can sleep in till 6:00 AM and read from your TBR pile of professional books. There’ll be lots of uninterrupted hours for writing and planning. Plenty of time for prepping customized PD. Sketching notes and more notes for meetings with principals, coaches and teachers. And maybe, just maybe, lots of time to wrestle that scratchy outline into a respectable manuscript. Put miles and more miles on the family SUV driving to campuses where you can listen and celebrate, encourage and collaborate.
You got into education 30+ years ago for the kids. You really wanted to make a difference in your world and you knew learning alongside students every day would be the most profound work you’d ever do. And you were right.
So, soon you’ll be packing up books and games and magnetic letters. Sharpies and whiteboards and highlighter tape. Pictures and notes scrawled on manila paper. Clay figures and chenille stick creations. Handmade coffee mugs and notes from parents. A lifetime of memories.
The adventure begins. And it’s still about the kids.