This last week at school has been filled with a lot of packing and purging. The Humanities teachers will be moving their offices for the second year in a row as construction continues at school. This coming year is a temporary space yet again as renovations are made to our permanent office space supposedly ready for the 2016-2017 school year.
Because next year (2015-2016) is my last year of teaching before I retire, it made sense to me to purge a lot of material where possible and move other books and materials home. Why move it twice?
I must have filled nine or ten 4 foot recycling bins of old papers and multiple copies of materials for which I only need one copy, old articles, old letters from students, old bills, old field trip confirmations, earlier permutations of assignments, never used assignments, student work dating back decades, agendas for meetings long gone, old calendars, to-do lists, lots and lots and lots of notes. I moved a couple of boxes to the classroom and the rest is sitting in the garage. But there isn’t too much there. I pared things down quite a bit.
My plan for next year is after each unit to either share with anyone who wants the material or just pitch it. The idea is that I will come home at the end of the year with just a small shoebox.
All of this feels a bit strange. I know I will be doing some tutoring after I retire to help soften the economic edge (I worked for a few too many non-profits in my career), so I still will be connected to the profession and I will maintain relationships with colleagues who are important to me, but I also know it will be very different. I feel as if I have many generative years left to my life, but I also know that this next journey will end in my death. It’s not like there are many other passages to experience. (I say this without morbidity.)
A friend of mine shared that she thought I was doing really well with this “countdown.” I was upset with that word. It’s not a countdown. I love what I do and cherish each new relationship with the children I teach. A countdown implies that I am ticking off each day as I get nearer to my last June as a teacher. A countdown implies that my focus is elsewhere and not with the energies of my students and colleagues and community. A countdown implies that I can’t wait until it’s over.
No countdown here. Next school year will be a savoring of each day. And following each individual exploration of topics and ideas, a cleansing by tossing or sharing materials. At the end of the year, my intention is to feel generously filled up, still consuming and consumed by the year, having feasted on all that is generated.