Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bittersweet Realities of Being Retired

This morning I listened to National Public Radio, checked the local news and read BBC News on my computer.  In my initial days of retirement, I make time to savor a cup of coffee and consider the state of the world.

Here's what I learned today:
  • A young man I knew as an elementary school student is now a felon
  • The Wall Street protests are not covered by our big mainstream media -- even after an officer approached a group of young women cordoned off by other officers and sprayed his can of pepper spray over the unarmed, unprotected women.  No one came to their aid with water or cloth or any kind of protest.  
  • In Mexico, decapitated heads were left outside a school
  • Coffee may be helpful in "preventing depression".
My cup of coffee does not have that power.  Even if it did, I don't want to be numbed or complacent or "cured" in the face of such human misery and abuse.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Time for Reflection

I have passed the 185 pennies to another teacher friend to be used "when she is ready" to consider retiring from public education.  As I learned over this past school year, retiring is a process that starts long before the decision, the announcement and the farewell party.

We laughed when I told her "the pennies worked".  But they did work for me -- transferring one penny a day, each workday, kept me focused and honest about what I was doing.  I was leaving my life work, colleagues, kids, parents, and that oh-so-familiar environment of school.

Since that last official day in June, I've taught in the National Writing Project in New Hampshire Summer Institute.  That was a great way for me to transition from special education testing to working and writing with teachers.  The National Writing Project's model is "teachers-teaching-teachers", and this work inspires thought and deep reflection.

That's where I am today, reflecting on education, rather than thinking about the daily school details.  I have left a specific job description.  I have left a climate of testing-is-teaching and public rants on teachers and schools.  I've left restrictive rules that make no sense in the "real world" of the classroom.  I've left budget cuts, bad policies, and animosity among communities who could be working together to support their future, their children, our world.

But I'm not going away.  I'm exploring and traveling through my writing, politics, cultural change, voice, telling my stories and owning my truths.   I feel rich beyond belief -- rich with books, arts, friends, ideas, curiosity, freedoms.  And, unlike the new barbarians who make war upon our country's principles and peoples,  I'm not afraid.