say good-bye, ms. eddy

Posted on June 10, 2019

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10 June 2019

Tomorrow’s the day when my students will take their final final exams and my colleagues will finish their grading, then clean and organize their classrooms for summer break. It’s the end of the school year! Woohoo!

For me, though, it’s a different kind of ending. It’s the end of my 25th year in the high school classroom–and the end of my teaching career–5 years too soon, but that’s another story. This is good-bye.

I cleaned and organized my classroom in March and left the students in the able hands of a former student who has been one of the best subs in the district for over a decade. It meant a lot to me to know that he would shepherd my students to the end of the year; he, more than other subs who hadn’t been my student, could understand how they might feel at suddenly losing their teacher. He also knows how my courses go and all the school routines. In March, I said good-bye, but the end of the school year is the official end of my work as a classroom teacher.

Good-bye, ms. eddy, good-bye, to 25 years of impassioned work as a classroom teacher and teacher researcher. It’s a time of change, a time to transition. My name is off the schedule for good.

Since March, I’ve been remembering and cherishing all the amazing experiences I had with students and colleagues alike, reflecting on the social death of my classroom teacher persona, and focusing on self-care. As that identity fades, I am exploring the world in new ways–as a retiree, gardener, writer, mentor, musician, performer, cyclist, hiker, and reader.

A Reading Rebirth

My reading practices are changing. I no longer approach every text as a mine for mini-lessons, teacher research, or another application to work…which is NOT to say that I can read without annotation. But I do it differently now.

As I retiree, the budget demands that I read FREE books, so I can’t mark in the books I’m reading. The library from which I’m borrowing them would find that behavior loathsome, not scholarly, and charge me a fine, which would make the books no longer free. This means that I, like my former students, must annotate with post-it notes and write something about a work to remember it by before I return the book–like I did as an undergrad, when I could barely afford essentials for myself and my two sons.

As a retiree, I can read at a more leisurely pace and take my time enjoying a book, slowly sipping, taking more time to reflect on and connect to the language and ideas. I can re-read; I can pick up or put down any book for any reason at all. I can read without obligation for the first time in 45 years! It feels exhilarating, delicious! It’s like being a kid again! Woohoo! I’m out reading in the wilderness!

Likewise, I can write without obligation. The first way that I’ve explored this new reality is to not write much of anything. There are two main reasons for this: first of all, I simply feel a deep need to be QUIET, feel my feelings as I make this transition, and write only if the urge to do so overtakes me. This post is the first time it’s happened, so here I am. I trust that my writer self will emerge anew as she’s ready. There are a LOT of ideas I’m exploring as a writer, but I’m just letting things percolate: I’m working on a performance piece, and I want to do some recording of poetry & music, but the work is all just mental right now.

The second reason I’m writing little these days is physical: I’m gardening so much that physical exhaustion denies me the strength for writing, and stiff muscles and joints make writing more difficult. Today it’s raining, and it probably will be all day, so this keyboard is getting my morning gardening energy. I suspect I’ll write more as I complete my revisions of the garden for 2019, so stay tuned.

I’m Not Writing Much But…

Gardening makes me so happy! It gives me a place to get strenuous physical activity, which is good for body and mind; I can work at my own pace and change tasks when I need to; I am living my land ethic by growing more food and less lawn; gardening with family and friends is good fun; gardening provides endless opportunities for experiential learning; and the garden is beautiful.

While I enjoy the labor, I also love to simply sit and breathe, taking in the beauty and wonder of  plants, pollinators, squirrels, toads, frogs, snakes…Pleasure at being alive is the garden’s first, and most-deeply cherished, fruit. We grow PEACE in the Garden of Eddy; joy grows in abundance!

I’m moving forward in a good way, exploring my roots and examining my mind. I’m growing into someone new. Today I pause to mark the official end of my classroom teaching career.

Good-bye, ms. eddy, good-bye!

I’m a member of the Class of 2019, and this is a wrap!