24 days to go and my teaching career will end… ironically in the very same place it began eight years ago.
My father once told me many years ago – “everyone should change jobs every 10 years just to remain fresh and motivated.” I seem to have changed not only jobs but entire career paths every ten years or so. I have been fortunate, lucky or blessed (… choose the adjective you think best) to have been successful in every career path I have walked down.
In construction I started at the lowliest laborer (for a concrete contractor) and retail lumber yard clerk jobs and ended up managing a lumber yard; briefly General Contracting a custom home; and supervising a distribution center.
In newspapers I was considered a “dinosaur”. The length of my tenure as a circulation manager/director was extremely rare. Most Circulation Managers are like head coaches; a few years of a winning team and then … boom… one bad season and you are gone. I had a lot of winning seasons (- by the way -mostly due to the quality of the people I hired).
Teaching has been the most demanding and challenging career.
I began my teaching career with a 20 year old (and mostly forgotten) skill set – having gotten my teaching credentials in 1979. I must admit I recognized on the very first day that I was in way over my head but was way too stubborn to admit it. Besides I love a challenge! Maybe I get that from my dad. But, no matter I figured out (after much struggling) how to be sucessful at teaching also. I am now Head of the Math Department at my school which is quite funny because Math was never my favorite subject when I was in school nor one I excelled at.
I loved teaching and the non-monetary rewards received the thanks from former students (and their parents) for pushing them to achieve or just for caring about them. I thought once that I could even forgo “retiring” and just keep teaching until my last healthy day. I wasn’t prepared for the onset of a feeling that I was tired of waging war on ignorance.
After 8 years (sometimes it feels much longer and then much shorter) I am feeling burnt out – no longer inspired to try to ‘open young minds to the possibilities’, frustrated and like most longer tenured teachers, un-damned- appreciated by the very people who should be the most supportive – the administration(s).
“You know it is time to retire WHEN – Your TIME becomes MORE VALUABLE than Their (your employer’s) MONEY.” – Yep DAD again … the wisest man I know whose advice I wished I had listened to more often.
When I first heard that I understood (Intellectually) what he meant but, only in the last year have I begun to “feel” it. My daughter whom I have not even begun to see enough of over the last decade – is getting married this summer… beginning a new life and hopefully a family. Yeah for grandkids?! My son is diligently finishing his graduate work and I have not spent near enough time with him either. My parents are getting a bit up there in years and I am tired of the 10 month-long interims between visits of which I fear there are too few left.
It is not just MY time but also THEIR (duaghter’s; son’s and parent’s) time and OUR time together that has become more valuable than money.
So, Tilly and I are moving home to North America and beginning a new stage. Instead of a career path I think I will pursue my interest in photography and dabble in some writing. Tilly will pursue her brilliant artistic work. (You can see my photos and her art at www.tilmikal.net)
BUT most importantly we will be able to spend TIME (the real way to spell LOVE) with those who mean the most to us.