We only have a few days left. Every day we're counting down, using our ten frames: 18, 17, 16 days left.
Some kids are getting a little clingy, wanting to be attached to us all the time and I wonder whether, for some, summer will bring happy days of outside play, sticky fingers, and wet bathing suits or whether they will long for the first day of school in September. We send them out into the void at this time of year and, while for teachers (and probably most students) the countdown fills us with heady anticipation, there are always a few students who give me pause, who make me wonder about changing the school calendar, and for whom I wish I could provide more than the ten months we're allotted.
This year, I'm feeling even more nostalgic as I'm also counting down the last few days of my career as a classroom teacher, for the time being at least. Over the next four years I'll be in a leadership role, spearheading and championing Arts Education in our region. While I'm unbelievably excited about this opportunity, I'm also a little, as Mike Myers used to say, verklempt. There is something powerful about being a classroom teacher; you are so close to the action. You get to know the kids so well and are able to respond to their needs with such immediacy that you can really make change. You don't have to look at big data sets to know what your students need; they're yours, by the time the data is processed, you've already made your move.
There is positional power in leadership roles. There is the power of influence, of building relationships, of cultivating curiosity and commitment among teachers. You can build a team of passionate individuals who are invested in shifting the paradigm. You have the ability to make big changes; I've seen it happen. There is the advantage of being slightly apart from the fray, allowing you some space and time to think about the issues without having to worry about collecting pizza money or wiping noses. But there isn't the ability to turn on a dime, to decide that no, we won't be doing that today because the kids are engrossed in their work so we're going to stick with that. The maneuverability and responsiveness of a classroom teacher are unparalleled. The intimacy of a classroom, the ragged messiness of it, is both the reason why teaching is so exhausting and why its so rewarding.
And I'm watching it walk away.
Every day, every square on the ten frame, brings me a little closer to the innevitable goodbye....