Well, sort of.
The truth is, I feel a little… adrift for lack of a better word. In some sense, my work has always been cut out for me. The rhythm and routine of teaching means that you always know what comes next, at least in a general framework sort of way.
And now? Well, now I am moving on to something much less defined. Exciting, but also somewhat anxiety-inducing in its apparent lack of rhythm and routine.
So this will officially be my last "teacher summer", where the work I do is by choice (such as an 18-hour, multi-day session I am facilitating for teachers outside of the GTA next week, or the online math course I intend to take later this month), and the way in which I fill my days is driven by a need for rest and a desire for downtime with family and with friends.
I spent the final days of my classroom career making my peace with my departure from that domain. The closure and goodbyes this year were gradual; near the middle of the month, a colleague persuaded me to invite a few professional friends from over the years to a "farewell picnic" in the park, and, June being in the month of Ramadan this year, and me teaching a class comprised of at least 50% Muslim students, several had already departed before the last weeks of school, some travelling to their own countries to spend time with family, others opting to stay home for all or part of the month.
Those few who continued coming to school while fasting joined the rest of us on a field trip we had cooked up together for the last day of school: Rather then sweating out the final few hours in our un-air-conditioned classroom, we took public transit to downtown Toronto instead for a visit to the Redpath sugar factory museum, and enjoyed lunch/break at Sugar Beach afterwards.
The first few days following my "retirement" were relatively straightforward; it was Pride weekend in Toronto, with all the fun and commitments that entails, including this year for the first time taking the plunge and embracing rainbow hair!!!
I knew I had some personal reflecting to do when I woke up this morning damp with sweat from a nightmare I had had about school: contrary to reality, I had dreamt that there were still two weeks left of school, and that I was late for class, having mistaken this for a summer morning, and having slept in! And to make matters worse, all my lesson plans had gone missing!
(You know you're a teacher when…!!!)
For 17 years, I've been a classroom teacher, or held positions that have allowed me to return with relative ease to the classroom to practice and refine my craft in between "leadership opportunities".
I've raised my own elementary school age children while teaching their counterparts in classrooms, or directly working with teachers who do. Many of my blog posts over the past several years have been inspired by experiences and interactions with these children and/or conversations with their parents.
My summers have been defined by reflecting on the year that has passed, and planning for the year ahead. August is a flurry of activity, preparing both my classroom and my "back to school" lessons. There are times in the year for conferences, for report writing, for planning and participating in certain rituals and routines with my students and my colleagues. I have preserved much of the activity of these seasons of each year here in my blog. Learning skills comments, a new way of recording student thinking, ideas for integrating emerging technology with problem-based learning in math, etc., etc., etc.
Now, I am moving into a space that is considerably less defined, at least for me who has become somewhat of an expert in my increasingly growing "small pond".
I am also moving into a position that is by necessity (political and otherwise) less blog-friendly. What, then, will provide the means for me to export my educational reflections and document my professional growth? And what will I blog about here? Or will I stop blogging altogether?
This blog has become for me a sort of digital scrapbook, often documenting the evolution of my teaching practice, and providing an archive of my thinking, even when that thinking has been messy or unpolished.
As a public servant stuffed into a small, grey cubicle, one of thousands at the Ministry of Education, my thinking will necessarily need to be more private than public now.
As I open-mindedly took a sip from the bombilla-ornamented mate he offered, I reflected on how this new take on an old standby was in some sense representative of the new adventure I was about to embark on professionally; as I had immersed myself in mate culture during and following our year in Argentina, if someone had told me that mate leaves could also be used to make a very tasty and acceptable cold drink, I would have scoffed at the idea -- and yet, here was this drink, and it was good! Very tasty and refreshing. And enjoying this new drink certainly didn't negate the value of the warm mate I had been drinking hitherto!!
Refreshing, too, I hope my new job will be. And, as my experience with and understanding of mate in general helped me to more fully appreciate the new drink I was offered by my neighbour in the elevator this evening, so, too, I hope my experience with and understanding of classroom teaching and classroom teacher coaching will guide me in my contributions in my new role in education provincially come September.
And now.... HAPPY SUMMER!!!!