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Goodbye, teaching (at least for now)

 I got my first teaching position when I was 5. My bedroom was my classroom. My parents furnished a blackboard and some chalk. My grandmother was my first student. I taught her about George Washington and about how the sun rises and sets every day.

More than 30 years later, I said goodbye to teaching, at least for now, when I congratulated my students at their graduation last month.

A few days before that was my last English class, a perfect 85 minutes of publication, reflection, celebration — and an excerpt from Frankenstein, one of my favorites.

I’ve been a teacher all my life, and it’s been my only job the past 15 years. Although teaching has never come easily for me, I’ll miss my 1,000+ students, and I’ll miss the bustle of the classroom. There are few jobs as fun and as important.

Next year, my focus will be on reading and helping teachers focus on literacy. Ninth grade will be the heart. As an instructional coach, I’ll still be in classrooms and work with students, but they won’t be mine.

Still, I’m looking forward to a year of deep thinking about a topic so critical to urban high school teachers. Without the constant pressures of the classroom, my vision for reading (and my crazy projects!) may develop more quickly. Plus, it’ll be fun to bounce ideas off other teachers, as I’ve done at my last great school; the best professional development, after all, comes with collegiality.

Yes, I’m a bit scared that I’ll lose my teaching edge. But I’m confident that I’ll be back in the classroom soon enough, ready for Round Two.

And please don’t worry, loyal readers: Iserotope will live on. 


  1. Chris Mercer


    Wow. What a move. I’m excited for you and your new focus. I will keep reading Iserotope and I look forward to the insights you’ll have from working with teachers.

    Best of luck and enjoy.


    • Mark Isero

      Thank you, Chris, and I look forward to seeing what you do with technology next year. I really think ipadio would be great for Spanish.

      Hi Kim! Great to hear from you. I hope you’re doing well.

  2. chris kauffman

    You’ll never lose your edge – it’s who you are. I’m so glad you’re going to share your gifts with other teachers!

    • Mark Isero

      Thank you, Chris. You’re very kind. As far as “shar[ing] my gifts,” maybe I’ll force one of the teachers to assign sonnet-writing. 🙂

  3. Marc

    Hi Mark,

    Sounds like we’re in similar places in our careers. I spent 18 years teaching music and am now mentoring/team teaching with all the teachers in my school. Some of that is through the library, some of that is through an educational technology cohort. I get it: it’s exciting and feels like the safety net is dropping out. Good luck! From the little I’ve gotten to know you so far, I’m sure you’ll be great. Will I see you in any courses in the coming semesters? I’m taking 233 with Loertscher in the Fall.

    • Mark Isero

      Great to hear from you, Marc, and thank you for the warm words. Yes, this is all a little scary, but it sounds like you’re figuring out your way, so maybe I will, too.

      Yes, I’m hoping to take 233 this Fall. After coming to terms with the rolling deadlines, I found that class extremely worthwhile. Hope to see you there; I’ve appreciated working with you.

  4. Stuart

    You said it in your title (for now) – you are taking a quick breath before returning in one capacity or another with more perspective, experience and respect for the profession.

  5. John at TestSoup

    If anything, this will sharpen your teaching edge! You definitely deserve the change of pace. Looking forward to the kind of thoughtful posts you put up as the next year rolls on.

    • Mark Isero

      John, thank you for your comment. I look forward to writing more, too. It’s possible that because I’ll be observing a lot, I’ll be able to “see” the students and classroom in a different way. Might be good, actually.

  6. Tony

    You are the best. I am so glad to have known that you have taught so many and to call you a great friend. You’ve been an amazing teacher, not only to students but from the many teachers who have learned from you. Your humility and determination to reach each student in your class has always inspired and motivated me. As someone who also made the transition, I can tell you that it will be nice to go to the bathroom whenever you like!

    • Mark Isero

      Tony, thank you for the nice words. One of my favorite years of teaching was sharing a room with you and bouncing off ideas. Even when our students didn’t understand my (funny) jokes, you were always there to chuckle.

  7. Vanessa

    Congratulations and good luck! I’m excited to hear all your sure-to-be-wonderful-and-delightfully-tech-ful literacy thoughts and solutions!

  8. CatDaddy

    How awesome! I’ve been contemplating Instructional Coach or getting a PHD in teaching Austistic students … now you’re making me feel motivated when I’d much rather grab a burrito blanket! 🙂 way to go – enjoy

    • Mark Isero

      Hi CatDaddy! Yes, this year will be fun because I get to be obsessive about reading. I wonder if I’ll be able to keep up the momentum on my library studies. How’s the guerrilla marketing coming along?

Please share your brilliant insights!