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.


reality-based educator said...

Mr Talk,

It has been great knowing you via the Internets as a fellow ELA teacher and ed blogger. I thought you might end up putting the papers in this year, given what was happening with your brother. I think you make the right decision here, getting out on a high note, so to speak, getting out with your health and sanity intact, getting out in order to do other things.

Godspeed in your future endeavors, Mr. Talk. You will be missed.


Unknown said...

I'm sorry to see you go, but am happy for you.

Your blog, though too infrequent, is routinely among the best, and I hope you'll continue to share your insights with us.

Good luck, and enjoy.

Pete Zucker said...


You going to continue blogging?

BronxEnglish said...

You are the best blogger around. I hope you continue. Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement!

Pogue said...

Thoroughly enjoyed coming to your site for your thoughts and fight throughout the Bloomberg years. I hope you continue to post every now and then.

All the best, AT.

Mr. Talk said...

Thanks for the kind words people. I plan to continue this blog. How else could I get rid of my snark when needed?

NYC Educator said...

Very sorry to hear you're leaving, Mr. Talk. It's a great loss for the kids of NYC, who could certainly benefit from someone who writes as well and thinks as cleverly as you do.

It's too bad those who run school systems have neither regard nor respect for quality. In fact I'm sure they wouldn't know quality if it were hitting them over the head.

I wish you the very best of luck in your writing. Please keep me posted.

Pissedoffteacher said...

So sorry to hear about your brother. I know how hard that must be for your. Congrats on retirement. I can tell you first hand that it is wonderful I still get to do plenty of blogging, even more if I want because I have the time and the ability to write without retribution from administrators.

Anonymous said...

lmao TC. But you promised to stay in touch.

ed notes online said...

I appreciate your blog very much and hope we keep hearing from you from a new perch. I hope you stay up on the political scene -- you may be hearing from me in case we try to do something with retirees in UFT elections.

And so sorry to hear about your brother. You are doing the right thing. I'm 12 years out and have no regrets - other than not being able to escape the UFT/DOE political scene as much as I wish. We lost 2 of our politically active colleagues over the past few months at the age of 71 - they were a couple and the shock is still reverberating for us. But one thing they did when they retired -- lots of trips and at the end they had those memories. So look for those golden moments when the educators are still working and you can go anywhere you want off-season.
And if you ever are looking for a fiction writers support group let me know.

I noticed that... said...

After 26 years of dedicated service to educating the children of NYC, it's your time to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Retirement is our high note and you would know when it's best to say good-bye. Life and its timing determine that decision for you.

It is very heartbreaking to learn about the passing of your brother. My heartfelt sympathy to you and your family.

It's great to know that you'll continue blogging. Congrats on your retirement. I wish you the best always.

Francesco Portelos said...

Enjoy your retirement. Glad to see you will continue blogging.

Chaz said...

Good luck with retirement and I still look forward to your informative and sometime funny posts. You will be missed.

As NYC educator said the DOE has no clue on what quality is when it comes to teaching but the students who had you do understand that.

Anonymous said...

Missed this. Best of luck.