Maybe it's because I'm having a tough year... maybe it's because I am getting old ( or have gotten old...).... but retirement has suddenly zipped onto my horizon. I always said I couldn't imagine retiring, I was going to teach for forever, or at least until it was no longer fun. I honestly couldn't imagine my life without my job. Thanks to a variety of reasons, I am rethinking those statements and considering my options. I even went to the state retirement website to look at the calculator for benefits! I couldn't log in because I don't have a user name and password, but I started the process. Will I do it soon? probably not.... but for the first time in my career, I am considering my options.
As I consider the reality of retiring, I am thinking of all the things I want to accomplish before I actually leave. What footprint do I want to leave behind at Tahquamenon Area Schools? What do I want to be remembered for here?
- a lifelong learner, an embracer of new knowledge- I want my students to remember me as someone who learned alongside them, someone who was enthusiastic about what we were learning and was willing to learn new ideas with them. I want to be remembered as someone who embraced new ideas, tackled the tough tasks thrown at them, and was willing to admit when I was wrong and learn from those wiser than me.
- a positive attitude - It is easy to get sucked into the 'woe-is-me' cesspool so I hope that overall, I am remembered as someone who stayed clear of the turmoils that impact education, at least in my classroom, and did not let those negative thoughts and attitudes impact teaching and learning in my day-to-day existence. I want my students to remember me as someone who greeted them at the door with a smile and a positive outlook and sent them on their way with a sense of accomplishment and purpose, a feeling they can go on to do great things.
- caring and generous - I became a teacher because I enjoyed working with kids, and as time went by, I discovered a particular alliance with middle schoolers. I hope to have imparted this sense of self on my students, so they know that always, I did care about them, not just as students, but as unique individuals, with their own strengths, shortcomings, and interests, giving them unconditional love and support along their journey.
- the ability to change and think on my feet - Life seldom falls into neat, tidy little plan books. I hope my students remember me as someone who went with the flow, embraced the teachable moments, and didn't get rattled when things went off course. I hope they learned how to let the things that don't matter fall by the wayside, and always focus on the goal at the end, the big picture, instead of letting all the little piddly irritations get them down.
I started this post yesterday but ran short on time, got busy with something else, and forgot to finish it last night. When I opened this morning and read my list so far, the first thing I noticed was there was nothing content related in my list. Does that mean I don't want to leave my students with more subject matter knowledge than they came with? NO! Not at all, I just think there are more important messages I want to stay with them. If they forget where Madagascar is, they can look it up online. If they forget how to find the area of an octagon, I sure google will help them. But I think there are more important things I can teach them than just the hard dry facts... things that will last them a lifetime, beyond algebra, beyond world history, beyond writing a memoir.... things that will help them embrace the challenges they are certain to find along life's path. THAT'S what I hope they remember.... THAT'S the legacy I hope I am leaving in my wake as I think about retirement.