News of my death…

has been greatly exaggerated. I’m feelin’ you, Mark Twain. All my posts lately are about how busy I am, and how that’s what’s keeping me from doing any real writing for you… but there will still be plenty of writing next year, and much of it related to education, too. More on that late-June-ish. And if what brings you here is not the education stuff at all, there’ll be who-knows-what dropped at a dark barker. If all goes exceptionally well, there’ll even be pieces published on real, tree-killing, high-gloss paper.

But yes, it is goodbye to teaching. Or at least, goodbye for now. TMAO says it’s a false promise to leave indicating one’s possible return when that might just be a rationalization or a fantasy or something. But teaching science has been good to me. It’s been full of challenges, adventures – dead lobsters, dead crickets, LEGO robots, homemade musical instruments, and more, and let me meet a few hundred interesting people who are fast on their way to becoming adults.

I ran into one of those young people on the bus the other day. He was in our school, perhaps illegally, in the very first year. Illegally because he was supposed to get services that we couldn’t provide. He was kind-hearted, didn’t read or write all that well, loved science but could be infuriatingly lazy, drove us up the wall, and thrived at the same time. He’s a junior in high school right now, teaching chess to little kids at a camp this summer – he always was a super-star chess player – and was talking about taking the SATs and the Chem Regents and starting college visits pretty soon. He wants to be a chemical engineer. How do I capture what it feels like to sit on a bus next to this young man, talking about his future, thinking back on the three years that I taught him, knowing the long odds for a kid from the South Bronx, a Dominican male with special needs, becoming an engineer, and yet knowing that he is already far along that path and can now see it unfolding in front of him. This kid is going to make it, and I played some role in that, and what’s simultaneously remarkable and reassuring about it all is that among the students who have graduated from my school, he is not an exception (I don’t have any data to back this up, just a few anecdotes and a sense). (The fact that he wants to go into a science-related field is just icing).

But it’s been a hard year, and the eighth hard year in a row, and at a certain point this winter, every cell in my body was telling me it was time for a change, physically, mentally. Time to make space in my life for healthier relationships, for the trazillions of interests that I have besides education, for pursuing writing in a serious way, for slowing down and redirecting my energy, at least for a while. I’m turning 30 next week: I guess that’s part of it. And then I saw an opportunity, and soon there was a job offer, and then I accepted, and then I told my boss, and then I wrote a resignation letter, and here we are. My new team met yesterday for a few hours, and reality got a bit realer, some initial planning was sketched out… well, I really can’t share more than that but be patient!

Still, I wish I could annotate this post in multi-colored post-its and add all the things that I’m leaving out (for now)… thoughts about why teachers stay and why they go, about my own personal reactions to stress and whether the problem is me or the job or the particular version of the job that happens in certain kinds of classrooms and schools in the city, about where I hope life might go next and the ten-thousand things that might come as next steps. I’m leaving, but I’m not going anywhere.

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7 Comments

Filed under blogging, confession, education, midlife crisis, New York, science, special education, teaching

7 responses to “News of my death…

  1. You can turn off those related posts, you know?

    You beat the curve. Eight years. Wish it could have been more, but still more than anyone could have expected.

    How many teachers have you taught with?

    Jonathan

  2. silly thing–you are going all kinds of places!!

    very excited for you and this new direction.
    :)

  3. Pingback: Another One Bites the Dust at The Core Knowledge Blog

  4. Pingback: The end of the beginning at Joanne Jacobs

  5. Jen

    I have a former student, now in grad school, that is doing research this summer about why teachers leave teaching. I think he’d be really interested in talking to you. I’m going to direct him to the blog!

  6. Congrats on the new job. I hear where you’re at in terms of teaching. After my 4th year of teaching I’m leaving also. Much to the dismay of my school & admin. I’m going through quarter life crisis & need to feel like I’m being me & exploring all my interests.

    Enjoy this new journey:)

  7. Ms. Fizzle,
    You might need to detox in Kaua’i. I left the classroom in Detroit to conduct teacher workshops for at risk students. Come to the healing island and see some rainbows and waterfalls. If you are looking for Paradise, it’s here. Watch Tropical Thunder, our friend’s father is the heroin mixer in the movie. It comes out this month and was filmed here.

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