Let’s all just HANG IN THERE.
It’s January freaking fifteenth.
It’s been dark FOREVER.
I’ve been cold for THREE DAYS.
Like, just cold, constantly.
I went to acupuncture today and told her, “Just don’t make me take any of my clothes off.”
Like, ANY of them. Not even my SCARF.
They said we would have lots of snow today, but what we got instead was just damp, damp, damp, damp cold.
I don’t like Valentine’s Day that much, and other than that, what is there to look forward to in the next couple of months?
90 seconds more of light each day?
It’s going to be a couple weeks yet before we start to notice that the long winter nights are budging at all.
Amy Mecher, HOW DO YOU DO IT, up there in Alaska?
I officially tendered my resignation to Portland Public Schools today.
My mixed feelings are over. I cried about it enough, last January, and February, and March, and April, and then it finally stopped in summer cause I got so busy with everything else that I guess I kind of forgot to keep grieving. And I kind of forgot to be excited. And I just kind of forgot to do ANYTHING except work and write and work and write.
Some people have asked me, “If you quit teaching, then what does that say about your curriculum, or your training, or your ideas?”
“If you couldn’t hang in there, who can?”
Some people have said, “If you stop teaching, how will you stay relevant? How will you keep your edge? How will you maintain your street cred?”
Here’s the truth. Here’s why I tendered my resignation.
I LOVE TEACHING.
LOVE IT STILL.
I will always love it.
I was very, very happy teaching.
I had it down to such a science, and I had it so efficient, that I was literally prepping like ten minutes a day, and grading like an hour a month.
And yet my students were learning a lot.
They could read, write, understand, speak when they took a notion to it (or when we played speaking games in class).
I look at videos of myself in the classroom and what stands out is PURE JOY.
I ADORE the classroom.
I adore making a world out of nothing but desks, tape, paper, and a rinky-dink whiteboard made out of some white stuff screwed onto what looks to have been an old chalkboard.
I love that kind of stuff.
But I could not keep my big mouth shut, I guess. I was so happy with what I had discovered, and learned, and developed, and I just could not help it. I posted videos, I started a blog. I wrote pages and pages. I killed two computers; I’m on my third computer since 2016. or maybe fourth. I don’t remember.
It was like I HAD to share. Because I wanted to help others see what I saw, and be happier too. And the more I talked and wrote and posted videos about teaching, the busier I got, and the busier I got, the more I learned, from working with teachers in more and more places, getting busier and busier.
And the more I learned about what was plaguing them, what was hard for them, what burning questions they had, the more I learned, the more I thought, and tinkered, and worked, and wrote, and talked, and…
Somehow the outside work just got bigger and bigger.
It began to pull me away from my students more and more.
I was not really being the teacher I wanted to be. The teacher I had always been.
I tried to keep up with both, the outside work and the teaching, but the outside work demands so much of you, and teaching demands so much of you, and there is, at the end of the day, only so much of you to go around, and you get tired of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
But it’s not Peter.
And it’s not Paul.
It’s Tina robbing Tina.
So, something had to give. And all along, I knew it would be my beloved classroom.
My dear students. My colorful book boxes, and my beautiful classroom library, and my stickers, my boxes and boxes of this and that, stowed away Just in Case.
Just in case Michaels ever goes out of freakin business, I guess.
I don’t have too many teacher things left now.
I have the choicest teacher books, on the bookshelf I just built in my office. The rest, I gave away.
I have about six student readers, to use as example Book Talks in workshops and Summer Institutes. The rest, I gave away.
I have a big, overstuffed folder full of notes and cards and letters and drawings that I have never read, that I was saving for a day that I would want to leave the profession, cause that’s what Jeff told us in grad school, “Save those cards and stuff, cause one day you will come to a point where you want to leave the profession, and you will need to look at them and keep your heart in it.”
But, the thing is, I never once, ever, wanted to leave the profession.
I never even wanted to leave the classroom.
I just wanted to get into other people’s classrooms so bad that I had to step out of mine. Maybe it’s just for a spell. Hard to tell. Maybe I will spend the rest of my days working with other people’s students. That’s fun, too. And it leaves me time to work on materials, and time to work on me, too.
Cause ALL teachers give and give, and give some more.
It’s like we should all have to take a required training called “How to Give to Yourself AND to Others, Too.” Cause we FORGET.
All of us give and give. And then there are the ones who sort of get Picked Up and Used. Or at least that’s how it feels to me. Like I got picked up and used, somehow, for some Muse somewhere to pour books of words through, to pour facebook posts, blog posts, video posts, teacher manuals, stories, workshop rants, through.
And so on my Almost One Year Anniversary of Leaving My Happy Place Behind (at least for a spell), I say to you:
IT’S WORTH IT.
It’s worth it to me, and not just in that “Giving to Others” way.
It’s worth it in the “Paying Tina” way, too.
Cause I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE working with teachers. I love Stepping Stones. I love the lessons, the cycles, the phases, the writing foci, the assessments, the rubrics, continua, the whole shebang.
Sometimes I look at that book and it’s like it did not even come out of my brain. I look at it in awe, and think, “Wow, WHERE did that come from?”
And I know that it will take me years and years to figure out how to unpack and unwrap and regift this huge body of work to other teachers.
And I also know that it is so fun, so satisfying, and so rewarding to be unwrapping the goodies that sort of got dumped in my brain by some Santa Claus that brings early mornings and worn-out keyboards instead of candy and toys.
Except there is no candy, no toy, no CLASSROOM that is more of a gift in my life than the gift of having these materials and this vision to share with you guys.
HANG IN THERE everyone.
And that goes double for you, Tina. Yeah, talking to you, Self.