I have a mild case of withdrawals: fidgeting, uncomfortable sensations, slight anxiety.
Since retiring from my teaching career a few months ago, my mail carrier recently delivered a teacher supply catalog.
Summer would normally be the time I would be attempting to rest and recharge and gear up for a new school year. Summer was always traditionally a big shopping time for me as well. Stocking up on lined notebook paper, pencils, and spiral notebooks when office supply stores would hold their annual back-to-school sales.
Catalogs offer different types of enticements. They are full of glossy pictures, showing pristinely decorated classrooms. Classrooms alive with color and organizational bins. Ideas would spring to mind with each page I turned. Should I attempt to arrange the books in my library corner by subject? Biographies in one bin? Travel destinations in another? Fiction chapter books in yet another?
I prided myself on transforming a barren classroom into a welcoming, inviting, engaging classroom -- for both my students and myself. My kids would be spending six hours a day, five days a week within those four walls. My hours would be a lot longer than that. I was personally invested in wanting our four-walled enclosure to be one I liked looking at. Hence, the bamboo plant, the stuffed toy caterpillar along the out-dated radiator, and the pillows in the library corner.
Each summer, I would come back to school on my own time, not being paid to spend days transforming a musty classroom into a catalog-worthy classroom. Once I had my music on, I got to work and used some serious elbow grease that left me dirty and sore at the end of the day. It was the ultimate before and after make-over. Teal paper hung on bulletin boards. Student desks set up with pencil boxes, folders, notebooks, and textbooks. Seasonal decorations hung near the class calendar.
And this year, I won’t be creating a learning environment. This year, I’m hoping all my past efforts and good intentions serve as good karma. My son will be starting kindergarten, and I hope that my twelve years as a public school teacher will carry him through twelve productive, engaging, safe years of education as well.