I Got to the Crossroads and Made My Choice

Interstate 95 - MaineImage by dougtone via FlickrThe Story

I finally reached the crossroads that I talked about back in my The Crossroads are in Sight post and pulled over and stopped on the side of the busy highway.  This crossroads looked like many others that I have gone by on my journey, but something told me to stop and take a look around this time, instead of instead of just speeding by.

After stopping I looked ahead on the road I was on, it looked pretty much the same as what was behind me – just more of the same – it was mostly flat and straight with some curves way up ahead, but it was also the direction that most of the traffic was going.  On the radio they were announcing huge traffic delays up ahead, due to construction.

When I looked to the right – it wasn’t exactly the same road, it seemed like it would be a little bumpier, had a few potholes I would need to avoid and was a lot narrower, but not really all that different than the main road I was on, but it was a way around the predicted traffic delays.

Strangely, it looked very familiar to another road I had been on previously and there were a few people already going in that direction. One had their vehicle in reverse and was trying desperately to get back on the the main highway, but there was a police officer turning in behind them, so they were not able to go back to the main road.

I finally looked left and through the “Do Not Enter – Official Vehicle Only” sign for the crossover and saw a little dirt road on the other side. I couldn’t see very far down that road, it was a bit overgrown, but still passable. It looked as though I might have to get out and open a gate, move a log and a rock or two out of the way before too long to keep driving. Looking carefully I could just barely see someone standing over by the gate.

If I was to go in that direction I would have to figure out how get across all the lanes of traffic, through the crossover and then wait for another break in the traffic from the other direction to get to the dirt road. No easy task, especially with the police car over not too far away.

I sat there and thought about my choices for a quite while and to my surprise, I realized that I had decided to take a chance and make that left hand. The police officer had continued up the other road and was now out of sight. Looking around and thinking about it a while longer, the left turn didn’t look all that bad.

In the past I have stayed mostly on the main highway, just like most everyone else and only made a few short detours off the main road, before getting back on the main highway. The more I looked to the left, the possibilities and the unknown adventures that it might provide me, began to intrigue me more and more. Besides I needed to see who was over there waiting.

This was a strange feeling to me, actually rather scary. I am someone who does not usually take unnecessary risks and had almost always taken the path that was pretty well maintained and well lit.  Yet here I was getting ready to go in the one direction that I don’t have a clue where it would lead.

These are strange times indeed.

The Why

I know in my heart, if I don’t take this left turn right now – today, I would be stuck on a road that isn’t right for me anymore.

I don’t want to look back next year and say “If I had only…”

With all that in mind – it was time to seize the moment.

THE FINISH

Ah, I see a break in the traffic in both directions, I don’t see anyone who woud try to stop me. The time is right – so I hit the accelerator. I quickly cross the lanes and finish making that hard left hand turn onto the dirt road and I come to a stop in front of the gate.

I did it! I actually did it! I can’t believe that I just made that left turn, but here I am on a road that I didn’t really expect to be on until last until I stopped and really took a look around the crossroad.

I can tell that the gate that is usually closed and locked. However, it is now open and there is someone walking slowly down the road on the other side of the gate.

I get out and begin to quickly walk forward.

So begins my journey down this road less traveled.The person walking down that other road stops, looks back and smiles. I bet if I hurry, I can catch up to her and Bennie and then we can walk down this road together.

I am looking forward to our journey together in retirement.Enhanced by Zemanta

The Decision Has Been Made

The Decision

Today I submitted my resignation as a Special Education Teacher at my school.
But why?

Teaching is something that I love, enjoy doing and would like to think that I am pretty good at, so why have I resigned from my “Dream Job”?

I could say that:
  • I disagree with the direction that public education is heading i.e. standardized testing and the standards based education system that is being developed – I do.
  • I am tired of my profession not receiving the respect from the public and political leadership it should have – I am.
  • There is too much “cover your ass” paperwork in Special Education – there is.
  • Apathetic students, who feel that they are entitled to have their good grades, attitudes and behaviors during school – too many do.
  • I am tired of coming home completely stressed out over what happened in school that day – I am.
  • and a host of other reasons that are discussed daily in teacher’s rooms and online chats – there are.
However, none of those are the real reason that I am leaving the teaching profession, they might contribute to it, but if I wanted to stay they would not stop me from being a teacher.  Realistically, they are all simply part of being a teacher in today’s world. If you choose to be a teacher, you learn to deal with them and make them work in your classroom and school.
The real reason I am leaving is about time.

My time

We all make choices about how we spend the time we have available or left to us. My final decision came down to whether I want to continue to spend my time doing things that other people require me to do and how they want me to do it, or do I spend it doing things that I want to do with my wife.

Whether people outside of education or even some inside of education want to admit it.  When school is in session, teaching becomes a lifestyle, to the detriment of your personal life. Even during so-called vacations and breaks, teachers still are worrying about planning the next week or the next year and what they are going to do in their classroom.

Another thing that teachers do oddly enough, is continually going to professional development opportunities (chats, Webinars, training seminars or college classes) on their own time, at night, on weekends or while they are on their breaks/vacations. I know because I have done all of these things.

My wife and I have researched and talked at length about this choice. We are doing it with our eyes wide open to the positives and negatives this decision will bring to our lives.

Spending time together while we are still relatively healthy and active, and being able to do things was the over-riding factor in this decision.

What about my students?
This was the toughest part of this whole decision process and my commitment to them almost caused me to come back for one more year. That is one reason I am letting the school know now (the other is that it is the right thing to do), instead of waiting until just before the required 30 days notice. So they will have the prime time to find another Special Education teacher, who will be ready for the start of the next school year.The new teacher will do things differently than I do, but will be able to teach those students as well or better than I do now.  I believe that my students will be fine.

What will we do?

We are not a high-maintenance couple and have lived fairly frugally over the past 10 years and will just live a little more frugally than in the past.  Other than that I am not sure yet, but we will have time to figure it out and make those choices, but I have some ideas.
  • Become more self-sufficient on the 8 acres we own i.e. cutting our own firewood, growing vegetables and maybe raising a few critters after the first year.
  • Hike a bit and walk a lot.
  • Pick up archery again
  • Putter around the house
  • Get ready for hunting season.
  • Write a book – something I have dreamed about doing and yes I can do the work.
  • Blog about it – I probably won’t make a lot more money than I am now, but I will have fun with it.
The first few months are going to be about:
  • getting rid of the fog of the school-year (at this stage most teachers are pretty crispy – I know I am)
  • making my honey-do list a lot shorter, now that my knee is getting better, hopefully I will get rid of some of the stuff on it, that got added while I was gimping around.
  • do a lot of reading (fantasy, self-sufficiency and my RSS feeds – I have a feeling this might increase considerably),
  • clean-up the blog a bit (find a new theme – this one is having trouble loading correctly),
  • start hiking again after the 24th – my last Dr.’s appointment
  • a lot of yard work
  • get the firewood cut and split (2 years worth – 1 to dry and 1 to burn)
  • start loosing the 20 pounds gained – I know I can do this.
  • and whatever else comes my way that I want to do
Are we comfortable with the choice we are making? Yes we are.
Is it going to always be easy? Probably not, but I am looking forward to the first time in my life not working for anyone else or worrying about what my “boss” wants me to do – well my wife might…

Am I going to miss being a teacher? YES, I will miss the kids and the dedicated staff, but not so much the paperwork or the standardized testing.   😉

So begins a new chapter in our lives when school lets out this year. I guess you could say that I took a left turn at this crossroad, much to my surprise.

Oh by the way did I say that I am already retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1996. So we do have income and health insurance.  It just means that I have elected to go into what I call semi-retirement.

“Are you doing the right thing for the right reason.”