‘Cause I’m already gone / Felt that way all along
— U2, “Gone”
By now, everyone in my immediate circle at school and at home knows the news. But I needed to call my dad. Grabbing the phone, let this be an insight in case anyone has ever wondered where my cynical attitude comes from. Go ahead and point to him…
“Dad, I’m moving schools!”
“Why, did you get fired?”
And so it went.
My closest friends learned about it first. They were whom I needed to call, or go over to their classrooms to tell them in person. I hated that part. Save for 1970s clothes styles, I abhor significant change. Moving schools after 15 years, my longest stint in one spot in the totality of my career, was significant change. But it was time, even if I haven’t entirely convinced myself that I was ready.
The e-mail to the district office accepting the transfer was next, and I then felt safe telling my current crop of 6th graders. Right before I told them, I immediately thought that what I was about to tell them was harder than breaking the news to my students that my mother had passed away. It’s not that I expected them to be devastated–after all, I was metaphorically about to follow them out of the door. It’s that in their faces, and among them were siblings of a number of my former students, I could see the faces of 400+ other students whom once were mine, at that school, with that history. I was sewing the final stitches of my time at that school site, soon to be hidden and packed away, much like the boxes of old photographs currently tucked into the corner of my classroom, mute reminders of my earliest years as a teacher, and my initial attempts at trying to be a yearbook adviser. I was even starting to look for homes, like for some soon-to-be-abandoned pets, for my 4 ceramic and plush bulldogs, representative of our school’s mascot.
It is over. I couldn’t find a legitimate reason to stay, save for one, that I, like several of my closest colleagues–and friends, felt that the example set by one of our former colleagues, who taught at our school site for over 50 years, was an example worth following. But that reason no longer was enough to mitigate the reality that as I neared my own 50th birthday, my time and ability as an educator to change my game, was growing short. This new school will be a challenge, not for worse, but for good. It represents one of the flagship schools of my district, a California Distinguished School. Still, there is some irony in that my own school, with its Title 1 and PI status, was losing an experienced educator like me. I am the type that should, by the fact that I had experience in working in such an environment, be staying. I should not be leaving for, what almost everyone who has talked to me about my transfer, greener pastures.
Given that it is hellish to pack stuff for the move across the district as well, in the end, my own ennui wasn’t enough for me to not make the choice to accept this transfer. I didn’t want to pack? Really? My own peace of mind was about to be unpacked as a result of this school transfer. I’d get to start over, and for that I was ready. After I fired off the e-mail to our district’s Assistant Superintendent for HR, I began to get the same level of excitement building up inside of me that my little girl is starting to exhibit when we talk to her about kindergarten next year.
Even a cynic like me deserves to be happy. Of course, I’m mindful of the advice about whom the gods wish to destroy–they first them make happy. I can only imagine the lightning bolt that’s coming. Truth be told however, I had fallen into a rut, dug by my own hand, but I wasn’t seeing an easy way to get myself out of it, short of being handed a brand new shovel to dig it deeper. Like some sort of deus-ex-machina, the end to my time at my school, my only school, was like an end-of-season plot device that didn’t necessarily follow what preceded it. There it was, nevertheless, to paraphrase Prince, walking in through the out door.
All platitudes aside, let’s see how these final few weeks go, to be followed by the summer of the packing and moving. This is my undiscovered country, my own milestone, in what I hope represents the biggest and ultimately final move of my teaching career. I don’t know that, of course, and it’s not like a “Future Me” is going to come back and warn me otherwise.