Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Darrell Patterson high in the mountains of Mexico contemplating retirement

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I'll Love Ya, Tomorrow

That's's over...the prelims are in the books. We finished staff development meetings today, and the students come tomorrow. Like a new baby or a new girlfriend or a new car, even, the new school year begins with hope, pride, enthusiasm and words like "communication" and "trust" and "...sorry, but that's all the money you get for your budget this year. Times are tough." Also ideas that confirm the notion that all other staff members have my back are upfront during this week. Whether they remain there or get shoved into the file that also contains the birth dates of the staff, our students and the phone number of my shrink remains to be seen. The enthusiasm, though, is heartening. This gives way to various stages of outrage as we see what changes the summer has brought to our class rosters for which we so carefully planned quickly we remember the old animosities. Catch phrases like "Spotters, ready?" should be followed by "Ready" responses. Then, of course, the trust fall takes place and all are reassured. I tried that today with a fellow teacher/committee member who was obviously angry, and she refused to go along. She didn't want me to support her; she wanted to be angry. Or, maybe, she just didn't like me: hard to believe, I know, but a possibility nonetheless. In spite of my best attempts at support and reframing the problem, I think she might still be upset. So we'll try to convince students that things we try in class also work in the real world although they don't for us! What was seen as group building yesterday is nonsensical today. I suspect that might be why "work" is a four-letter word!
I am, however, stoked to see the kids come in the door tomorrow: the first day of senior year or freshman year is always a red-letter day, and everybody gets new shoes. I'll have to remember mine,too. Sophomores and juniors have to find another niche as well, and everyone is looking forward to Mrs. Berg's cookies.Now, will the bare midriff look be out this year as all the fashion circulars show (it's uncertain why I would notice that), or will the trend continue in Algoma because news travels slowly there? What else will be pierced or tattooed? Sadly enough, we'll find out who got pregnant by whom over the summer. We will have at least one student recovering from a serious car crash and another on the mend from a life-threaening disease. Diversity? not likely: one or two foreign exchange students and a couple of Hispanic students will be our max...pity. We need to see more of the outside world.
The overriding question is will I find that teaching every period of every day for a whole year so exhausting that it will drive me to retire, or will I find it stimulating and want to keep going? Part 1 of 185 that make up the answer comes tomorrow. Darrell Patterson begins year 33 in teaching.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Light At The End...May Not Be A Train

This might be it...the last roundup, the last hurrah, last call; or, it might be just the portal to some awakening idea lost in the hibernation of 33 years of teaching. It's official: I can retire following this school year, and I must say that the idea of retiring at 55 is a pleasant one. I absolutely love teaching, and my students invariably give me more than I give them (pain from some, joy from others!). It's just that all the other things surrounding the edbiz have become so frustratingly painful that continuing might not be my best option. What else is there? Not many teachers can simply retire to a life of leisure though a friend of mine recently retired to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and seems none the worse for a lack of remunerative activity.
There are long-delayed home projects to complete; my music collection is in dire need of revitalization as those archaic cassettes long to become compact discs complete with the pops and scratches that remind me of my vinyl-laden disc jockey days. My kayak sits forlornly in the garage, begging for the waters of Green Bay or Lake Michigan. The Cannondale doesn't get nearly enough exercise to justify the aero bars that jauntily perch on the handlebars. Rollerblade would go broke if they depended on me to buy enough wheels to keep them in the black. All in all, the future is fraught with possibility though the idea of trying to live on less is scary.
Oh, I'm trying to plan for some kind of gainful, part-time employment, but it must be stimulating, creative and not so time consuming that I can't come and go with a certain degree of impunity. In short, it must be something like the job I have now! Subbing? I don't think so. As this year unfolds, perhaps the possibilities will be clarified...after all, I can always continue teaching. Drop-dead date of April 15 for the decision.