As retirement calls my name it conjures up so many wonderful plans for the future and so many wonderful memories of the past. As I dream of biking through the rolling hills of the Cotswolds I tear up thinking about how quickly my teaching years have passed and how much I will miss the energy and enthusiasm of the students I have worked with. People ask me all the time why I would choose to work with __________ (pick your favourite: primary students, teenagers, middle school kids, 10 year olds etc. etc. etc.) I chose to work with kids for two reasons; because I love kids and because I believed I could make a difference. I still love the kids and I believe I have made a difference.
I have worried throughout all of my years of teaching about keeping kids enthusiastic. I watched my own children the same way I now watch my grandchildren. I watched carefully trying hard to ensure that they had a love of learning. I'm not talking about subjects here, I'm talking about learning. Each child is so special and unique and they all have a love of something when they come to us at school. I sometimes worry that we don't pay enough attention to the things they do love. I watched my grandson eat his breakfast the other day and noticed that he wasn't still for one second while he ate. He's a busy guy; up, down, over, under, on and around. I love that about him. I listened to him as we walked through the rain as he said, "I LOVE rain. I LOVE puddles." He LOVES a lot of things. I love that about him. I watched my granddaughter learning to knit. Those stitches must have fallen off the needles 50 times. After several times she said to me, "Gramma, I'm getting way better at casting on, aren't I?" She has so much patience. I love that about her. I listened to her read a story to her cousin with such inflection and enthusiasm. I love that about her. I tried hard in my classrooms and later as a principal to look for the wonderful things in kids, all kids. I think aside from the basic skills (reading, writing, 'rithmetic) that our job as educators is to make sure that students leave our care as confident learners, knowing that whatever they want to take on in life is at their whim because they KNOW they can learn whatever they want to. I know it's hard to accept, but often they want to learn things we don't want to teach them or worse yet, things that society doesn't value. If we could only accept that they will grow and change and learn in their own way and in their own time. One of my favourite quotes reflects what I am trying to say,
"If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructable that it would last throughout life."
I did not leave school as a confident learner. School, for me, was all about sports and social life. When I hear teachers now discussing those darn kids who just don't care about school I wonder how many times my own teachers said the same thing about me. I believe that we all find our own way, I truly do. While I was an average student in school I excelled in university, probably because I didn't go until I was 27 years old. I know that it wasn't a path I would have even considered without the constant encouragement of my husband who had more faith in my ability that I had in my own. This is a good time to remember that we ALL need cheerleaders as much as we need "teachers". We need support as much as we need advice. Sometimes we need others to have dreams for us because we don't have enough confidence to have our own dreams.
I have so many dreams and plans now that 24 hours a day isn't enough to fulfill them all. I have an amazing family. They are all good, kind people. Their senses of humour are a bit off but I imagine they would tell this was nurture rather than nature:) I have a husband who models everything I believe about caring for those around him. I have two grandchildren who renew my own sense of wonder each time I am with them. By the time Christmas arrives I will have two more grandchildren and can't wait to meet them and see who they are! I do look forward to all that is coming down the road for me but today, in the moment, I also feel some melancholy, as it should be!