I have always been surrounded by Teachers.
My husband, many of my friends, my Mom, My sister.....and I have always extolled the virtues of said teachers proclaiming they must be saints and/or crazy to want to teach all day.
I happily spent my days at my own desk doing a variety of interesting tasks without the clamour of dozens of students.
Of course these teachers in my life told wonderful stories of life in the classroom, connection with students as well as the familiar battles with marking, assessment, pressure from parents etc.
I nodded and smiled.
Then one day I was asked if I would teach a class in the Early Childhood Education Program at a local college.
Nope. Can't. Not a teacher.
Persuasive arguments were used about sharing knowledge, helping develop the field, an extra paycheck...
So one night I found myself in front of a class of adult learners.
I was terrified.
And WAY over prepared (I know this shocks you). I had the whole class (in fact the whole course) timed and scripted and I had about 2000 back up articles / activities etc.
Last night, 10 years later, I taught my last class of that same course to adult learners in Richmond.
As I packed up my projector and laptop and gathered my papers I paused for a moment in the now empty classroom and reflected on how wonderful this unexpected path has been.
In many ways I am more passionate and more engaged in the teaching material than ever. I have come to love not only teaching the material but engaging students in deep thinking and debate and pushing them to look at things from multiple perspectives. I love seeing them catch the vision for what early childhood education can be. I love telling them how important they are, how much they have to offer and how much they need to take care of themselves in this demanding but deeply nourishing and rewarding career.
I have so many stories of my own now, so many students I see out and about in the community, so many wonderful Instructor colleagues who have helped and guided me and so many boxes of teaching materials!
Although I still don't perceive myself as a "natural teacher" whatever that may be, I still sometimes struggle in that role and I still over-prepare (If Allan had a dollar for every time I left for a class anxious I didn't have enough material and then came home late because I went over time and didn't use half what I had prepared we'd be staying at the Ritz in NYC next week).
With no more classes to teach in the foreseeable future I am, for sure, going to enjoy the hours I get back (and no marking!) but there is much more that, surprisingly, I will surely miss. The research, the reading, the building of courses and classes, the interaction with students, the collaboration with colleagues, the joy of being paid to share that which is as much who I am as what I do.
Maybe I'll step back on this path at some point but until then ...
So long classroom....