Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mr. Talk Hangs Up His Chalk

I'm sitting here next to my school briefcase, which had formerly been stuffed with student papers. It is now stuffed with my retirement papers. Yes, gentle readers, after 26 years serving NYC public schools, I have decided to make my exit. I am retiring.

Believe me, it is with a heavy heart that I hang up my chalk. I love my school, I love the kids (in a figurative sense, in case Campbell Brown is reading), and I would love to experience working under a pro-teacher mayor like Bill de Blasio instead of the teacher hater, Michael Bloomberg, for whom I worked for the past 12 years.

My decision was spurred on by a number of factors. First is fatigue, I suppose you could call it. I have taught roughly 3000 students in my career. If I graded just 20 tests/papers/homeworks for each child per year (and I can hear my colleagues chortle at such a low figure), that's 60,000 papers along with millions of corrections. It makes my head hurt thinking about it.

Next is the administrative hassle. No, I don't mean administrators--I actually like mine. (One of my admins knows I write this blog, although I have never admitted it to her. This is my formal admission, MR). The paperwork that comes along with this job now is daunting. Every English teacher out there (yes, English is hit the worst) knows that we have to keep running records, pre/mid/post assessments, portfolios, hold-over folders, and a thousand other slings and arrows. I don't think I can bring myself to do it again.

But the main reason I'm calling it a day is that I want to do other things before I get too old to try them. Some of you may recall that I blogged about my brother's struggle with lung cancer; he recently lost that battle. He was only a year older than me, and his death has made me reconsider my priorities. I have devoted close to three decades to the children of NYC--that is enough. I want to devote some time to me.

Besides teaching and blogging, I am also a published writer (yes, one who gets paid to do it, not vice versa). I have quite a number of books to my credit of various genres, including education, children's fiction and non-fiction, and a number of pieces that have been published in places like The New York Times. While I doubt I'll write any more education books, I'm going to concentrate on fiction and see what happens. Obviously, although I've been successful at writing professionally, I have not been so successful that I could afford to quit teaching. Now it doesn't matter whether I can make a living at it. It's what I want to do.

I started this blog because I was being harassed at my old school and wanted a place to vent. I left that hell hole to come to my new school, where my abilities were appreciated. Despite all the turmoil in my life this past year, I am proud to say I was rated highly effective. From dud to stud. As I learned from Mel Brooks and Seinfeld, it's always best to leave on a high note.

EDIT: Just to make it clear, I am retiring from teaching, not blogging. You'll just have to put up with me a bit longer, I'm afraid.