Thursday, June 05, 2014

Future Tense

As I have mentioned here only moments ago, the school year is winding down. It's apparent in the way teachers and students interact. It's obvious by the way we celebrate our Spirit Week. Today is Mismatch Day. It's an outward signifier of what is about to come: The End. We will pack up our classrooms and check in our keys. Students will pack up their desks and turn in their textbooks. We will go our separate ways, for a while at least.
That's true for most of us, anyway. Our fifth graders will be promoted, and they will ascend to the heavens of middle school, never to be seen again. Unless it's to pick up their little brother or sister, or just to drop by because it turns out that Mister Caven wasn't kidding when he said that middle school would be tougher than elementary. That's a transition with which I continue to be familiar. This past Sunday, I experienced something a little bit new.
I went to a retirement party. A pair of teachers from my son's elementary school were ringing the bell for the last time. They had taught together for twenty years, and they were rightly seen as an institution at that particular institution. They won't be returning. They're all done. The crowd at the Garden Center where the event was held was standing room only. Former students, parents and colleagues packed the place and had all kinds of warm and loving remembrances of a career or two that made the room even more full. Of love, respect and dedication. It brought a tear to my oft-jaundiced eye.
It made me think about a day in the future. More than ten, but less than twenty years from now. I will be tiring enough to consider retiring. At that point, it may be more than just a consideration. There may be people or constitutional amendments that will require that I load up my bag of tricks and head out to pasture. Of course, it would be best if by the time I made it to the pasture that I still had a little something left in reserve. I have joked, at times, about how they will have to carry me out of my classroom when it's time to go, but I don't think that's how I really feel. I don't want to overstay my welcome, and I don't want to stick around past my shelf-date. I want people to stand up and speak glowingly of me and I want to be able to taste the chocolate cake that someone will make sure to bring along. I want to be able to make sense when it's my turn to speak about my years in the classroom. I want the room to feel the way it did last Sunday. I don't want there to be a dry eye in the house.

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