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.