It has been one month since my last day as a teacher back on June 17th. I can hear many out there saying “what is the difference, you would have been on vacation anyways?”
To me there was a big difference over the last month!
My usual summer routine would have been participating in online conferences, webinars, reading special education laws/regulations and changes to other laws pertaining to special education, reading ways to improve my ability to teach English, #chats on Twitter, attending conferences, talking with educators, writing blog posts about the classroom and many of the other things that are related to education to improve myself as a teacher during the so-called summer vacation.
This past month I did not participate vicariously through the Internet in ISTE or any of the other big online professional development conferences or opportunities that have occurred this summer. My participation in #edchat, #spedchat and all the other *chats that I used to be a regular participant in has been reduced to mostly occasional lurking and infrequently – comments.
There are no plans to attend the ACTEM summer conference in a couple of weeks or in October. I am not reading updates to Special Education/504 Laws/Regulations or ensuring that my English class lesson plans and curriculum are aligned to the National Common Core Standards. Heck I am not even bugging the secretaries to see if I have any new students on my caseload, making up my caseload lists and preparing my “letters” home or welcome back to school stuff. It all feels very strange in many ways.
During the last month, I have noticed a declining interest in what is important to many of my online educator colleagues, versus things that I am interested in reading and hearing about now. Yes I continue to have several educators in my Twitter, Google + and Facebook feeds, but more and more those are to maintain the personal connection, than to discuss education related topics.
As I move in a different direction than most educators are this summer, I find myself slowing down – a lot. I am finding out that the rest of the online world does not revolve solely around educational policy and how we teachers on the Internet want to view it. There are many more conversations on the Internet that are not related to education and I am finding myself interested in more than a few of them.
One thing that has set my mind at ease – a lot, is that I met with and went over my caseload (teaching and special education) with my replacement. It is someone that I have known for a long time (almost 15 years) and I now know that those students that I had last year are in goods hands, I can stop worrying about who is going to replace me and can relax about that – it was bothering me a bit. I have known for a long time that she is a better teacher than I am and that she will do a fantastic job with them. I wish her the best and I didn’t knowingly leave behind any Gordian Knots that she has to take care of.
The first month of my semi-retirement has been eye-opening and much easier than I thought it would be. Broadening my interests to include more non-education related topics and ideas has made the transition to being outside of education easier.
Remember that artificial external pressure to always be doing something, to get ready for something, well that feeling is much less than it used to be in my new life. The hurrying and scurrying to get something done is changing to, yes it will get done, but maybe not right now and you know it might not get done tomorrow either, if I don’t feel like it (unless it is food ready to be harvested – that gets done). That is the biggest difference to me, is the outlook toward doing things at a different pace, than I have been used to doing them in the past.
You know something, even though it is has been only a month, it seems like a lifetime ago, that I was employed as a teacher. That is a genuinely weird feeling.
That being said I will always be a teacher and have an interest in education related topics and conversations. I just don’t plan to be as one-dimensional about it as I was before and yes I do plan keep my teaching certificate current. You never know when the classroom will beckon again. I just have a feeling though it won’t be right off.