Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I'm Leaving the Classroom…

Today was my second to last as a fifth grade teacher.  Tomorrow will be my last.  It will be my students' promotion day.  In the morning, we'll participate in an hour long ceremony that will act as their "step-up" to middle school.  Both my students and I are leaving the comfort of the elementary school classroom.

Technically, I'm not truly leaving the classroom.  I'm just leaving my own classroom.  I'm leaving behind the day to day management of elementary school teaching to focus on literacy education on a greater scale.  Rather, to focus on working with principals, teachers, other coaches, and school staff members to further develop reading and writing instruction in our schools in Palo Alto.  For the next two years, at least, possibly more, I will work as a literacy coach (TOSA- teacher on special assignment) for the Palo Alto Unified School District.  I'm trading my own classroom for a desk, my car, and a visitors' badge at the six schools I'll serve. It's a bitter-sweet change for me, but the sweet definitely outweighs the bitter.

After school today and the shedding of many tears knowing I'm leaving my beloved school, I met with my new coaching/TOSA team.  My sadness quickly turned into anticipation and eagerness after a few minutes in the meeting with them.  I am so excited to be a part of this group!  Not only did they welcome me with their words and smiles, but also they valued my opinions while sharing their own expertise and experiences in the district and in education as a whole.  We're a very diverse group with specialties in different areas of education.  I am thrilled to work with and learn from them next year.  I know there will be an enormous learning curve for me in the coming months, and I am so eager to take on the new challenge. Also, I am ridiculously excited to head into the classrooms of teachers I've known for years to learn more from them.  We have such a wealth of talent and knowledge in our school district, and I just can't wait to see and learn from the great work that everyone is doing.  We, teachers, work so hard everyday- often to the point of exhaustion. I can't wait to work with my talented colleagues more directly this summer and next school year.

Now to the bitter of this bitter-sweet change:  I am going to miss being a classroom teacher.  For the past 12 years, I have managed, run, and taught many different elementary classes.  From wiggly second graders to confident fifth graders, I have had the pleasure of being a teacher to 280 children total, for 180 days, of 12 consecutive years.  This doesn't even account for my kids in The Palo Verde Fun Run Club, The Let's Move Summer Class, or the many literacy and math interventions I've taught through the years.  I have adored directly working with and developing relationships with all of these children and their families over the past 12 years.  I will tremendously miss this.

  • I'll miss 24 nervous faces silently staring at me with wide eyes on the first day of school.
  • I'll miss those same 24 faces two weeks later who can't seem to stop chatting and wiggling around!
  • I'll actually miss excessive chatting- who knew!
  • I'll miss the honesty of children on one of my bad hair days.  I suspect my
    I'll miss homemade birthday cards.
    new colleagues will keep their opinions of my hair to themselves.
  • I'll miss my daily conversations about life with my fifth grade level partner, Jenn.  I also loved those conversations with my old third grade level partner, Michelle.  There's nothing like working and collaborating with a like-minded grade level partner over multiple years.
  • I'll miss spontaneously discussing current events with my fifth graders.  
  • I'll miss hearing about their swim meets, birthday parties, annoyances with their siblings, and so much more! 
  • I'll miss those relationships that take 6 hours a day and many months together to develop.
  • I'll miss our weekly Wednesday Palo Verde assemblies where Anne, my wonderful principal, announced to the kids, "What day is it?" To hear the loud, rousing, giggly response of, "It's hump day!"
  • I'll miss random hugs throughout the entire day.

I'm sure I'll miss so much more that I can't even foresee yet.  However, I am gaining so much.  I'm gaining a new team of colleagues, the opportunity to work with hundreds of kids at multiple schools, and most importantly, the opportunity to develop more relationships with the excellent teachers we have in Palo Alto.  Good teaching is about relationships: relationships with both colleagues and students.  I'm losing a lot, but I'm gaining much more.

As Alexander Graham Bell once said, "When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."  Not to sound too corny, but I'm no longer looking at that closed door.  I'm now remembering those amazing, little moments instead of longing for them again.  I'll miss them, but I'll smile inside at the same time.  I'm now looking ahead to the new journey that's right in front of me. I don't know what it exactly holds, but I do know I'm up for the challenge and ready to take that ride with my new team.  

Perhaps that did sound corny.  One thing that won't change- I'll always remain honest, true to my beliefs of doing what's best for kids, and perhaps a little corny at times. 

Here we go! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing these reflections. The relationships are the key - you almost make me want to be an elementary school teacher! Trying to build those connections at the high school level can be much more challenging, with so many students, but still the best part of the job! Good luck, and I'm glad you'll still be with us in PAUSD.


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