Friday, May 27, 2011

Leaving My Students Easier, Thanks to Mrs. Beverly!

Packing up my career life of the past 6 years (15 years in my total teaching life) is harder than I thought it would be.  I am lost in the details... end paperwork, posting grades, packing personal curriculum, organizing school's materials, storing supplies, storing materials and storing more supplies... teacher's have a lot of stuff!

Thanks to the smiles and cheers of my students and coworkers, leaving is emotionally easy.  While I am going to miss all of my gifted and talented students (some of whom I have taught for four years), I feel so good about the hands in which I am leaving them, Mrs. Beverly.

Of course, I haven't always felt so great about Mrs. Beverly.

Due to budget cuts last school year, I left the comfort (now a luxury) of teaching at only one school and stretched myself to serve an additional 46 students at Macedonia Elementary.  There, I met Mrs. Beverly with whom I was forced to team teach.  I walked in with a chip on my shoulder the size of Stone Mountain.   I detested the idea of teaching in the same room with another teacher.  To be honest, I thought it was a complete waste of time for one teacher.  I did not work well with others and had no desire for self-improvement in this area.   While I was grumpy about this development at the time, I realize now how fortunate I was to have the opportunity to work with such a gifted educator and to make a wonderful new friend at the same time.  Beverly, ever patient, smiled and nodded at my extemporaneous speech about how I taught: my beliefs and methods. How I was doing it my way and she could "go up an alley and holler fish" to quote Gomer Pyle.  I made my point as congenially as possible, being a Southener, but Beverly got my point.  Over that school year, she let me whirl about the room my way, but showed me the way to teach with precision.  I learned to slow down and listen to the students and to weight my objectives equally with theirs.  She was also my therapist.  Each morning and afternoon, she listened to my non-stop narrative of our insane life of sports practices, dance and music lessons, church activities and band practices; the life of non-stop working to give meaning to family.  She helped me see the maddness in our modern family life.

I look at that year now as my therapy year.  I should pay her a counseling fee, but don't tell her that; we need the money for traveling.

This school year, I missed the luxury of having two teachers in a classroom of 27 gifted students.  The budget crisis increased along with my class size.  Gifted classrooms went from having a maximum class size of 17 to 25 in two years.  Next year, the new maximum size is 33.  Thirty-three gifted and talented children in one room with only one teacher to attempt to meet their needs and answer their unending questions is what's really insane!  But it is no longer my problem. :-)

Thank you, Beverly, for your support, your encouragement and your friendship!  You are lucky to work with these incredible kids and they are so lucky to work with you!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Affirmations and Overwhelming Support

Amazing!  Unbelieveable!  The overwhelming support for our Field Trip Year (my new term for our family sabbatical) affirms our faith in following our dream!

When Greg and I turned in our resignations, we expected hesitant acceptance, if not an outright dour attitude toward our decision.  Instead, we met excitement and encouragement (I hadn't seen them in a long time these long lost friends!)  Most people we have told are thrilled with our prospects and supportive of our plans.  New opportunities sprung up with each conversation.  One teacher friend spoke with her mother about our sabbatical and she offered her home on Long Island, New York as a free stopping point on our journeys up the east coast!  Another friend's parents have a vacation home near Tempe, Arizona and have graciously said we could stay there for part of our southwestern field trip.

These encourageing offers have started new ideas stirring in my head.... Could we trade our vacation home on Fripp Island during the off season for other homes in America and abroad?

This is the most excited I have been about our future in years!  We both feel this is the beginning of something wonderful for our whole family... What were we worried about again?