the blooms will come

I was privileged to teach for 34 years, in grades three through six, including serving for ten of those years as a reading specialist/literacy coach. My career consumed me, it delighted me, it frustrated me, and it fulfilled me.

I have always felt called to teach, even fifteen years in when I was experiencing a bad case of burnout. At that time, as an almost vocal answer to my prayers for what to do next, I could hear God saying, “I have called you to teach, and until I call you for something else, just carry on.” And so I did.

I still have a lot of teaching stories inside me, and they will still be told, but this year it was time to retire, and I repeatedly saw signs along the way. Most prevalently, the sign that spoke loudest to me was about assessment and data. I believe – I always will – that teaching is about individual relationships and personal growth. Education is about knowing students and becoming a part of each other’s lives. It is about working and celebrating together.

Teaching should not be about numbers. It is not about impersonal computer assessments, scores derived from one measure that determine futures, numbers that can be skewed to reinforce what someone is looking for, or decisions based on trends and predictability formulas. Obviously my beliefs and today’s educational practices are in conflict.

A friend assured me I would go through a grieving process, and I may, especially when school begins in the fall. After all, I have been in school, as a student or a teacher, for all but one of the last fifty-four years. But as for grieving, I believe most of that process has already taken place for me. I have been saddened by what I see as backwards steps in reading instruction in our district. I have been appalled at the political maneuvers used by education’s leadership at local, state and national levels. I have been discouraged by the lack of trust and belief in teachers. I have been hurt by acquaintances who have devalued and disrespected my colleagues and myself. And quite honestly, I am tired of the negativity this has brought to my life.

So I am truly energized about my retirement and the days ahead. There are opportunities to breathe deeply, to embrace new ideas, and to foster relationships with others. I can reconnect with neglected family and friends. I can be a better wife and mother, a better homemaker, a more engaging conversationalist. And there is time to listen more carefully to see what God is now calling me to do. there is anticipation – not anxiousness but enthusiasm – to see where this all leads.

My daughter went with me to purchase a hanging basket for our back yard the other day. I have waited almost too late in the season to have many choices among the remaining offerings at local nurseries. I knew I wanted a geranium, but there were very few healthy looking ones from which to pick. Thankfully, here’s what I ended up with:


My daughter asked me if it bothered me that there was only one bloom. “Not at all,” I replied truthfully. “Look closely. There are buds all over this plant. The blooms will come.”

geranium buds

And that is how I view my retirement. There was a time when I thought I could never retire from the professional love of my life without knowing what I would be doing next. “I have to have it all lined up before I can quit,” I told myself. But as it turns out, that is not the case. The feeling of freedom in this is incredible! Right now, I am very confident this was the right decision, extremely thankful for this opportunity, delighted in knowing it is absolutely the right thing.

No, I am not sure what my next professional steps will be. Yet I can assure you, there is a blessed peace in knowing that one day, when the time is right, the blooms will come.

13 thoughts on “the blooms will come

  1. Leigh Anne says:

    What a beautiful story. We had two teachers who retired this year who probably were not quite ready, but had the same mixed feelings about the way education is heading – just like you. They were excellent teachers but many forgot about them as assessment and data took over. I applaud you for your years of service. I hope this fall you will look back and not grieve, but remember all the good things and the children whose lives you touched.

  2. Tara Smith says:

    Every bit of your post resonated with me. Especially the parts about what teaching has become. Good luck in your new adventures.

  3. Tara Smith says:

    Reblogged this on A Teaching Life and commented:
    A beautiful post – leaving the world of teaching…

  4. This is a beautiful post. Assessment is hard right now. In our book we have tried to shift the conversation to the students, but it is difficult to do in the current climate. We hope we move beyond the numbers and focus once again on the stories of our students. Enjoy Retirement!
    Clare and Tammy

  5. Linda Baie says:

    I wish you many blooms in your life that’s starting now. You wrote this goodbye so beautifully, and I am happy to hear how content and free you are. I am going to do one more year, and then it’s time. I’m sorry for the upset in the education world, and hopeful for my grandchildren that things will become better. Best wishes!

  6. margaretsmn says:

    I loved hearing the calmness in your voice. You have made the right decision and will find a new door waiting for you to open. So many things to do! We have lost many great teachers in the last few years for the reasons you have listed. It saddens me so much. I hope someone is listening. When will this trend end? Thanks for sharing your story today.

  7. Every word of your post spoke to me heart. You have made the right decision and there are MANY tasks and loves awaiting your time and energy. Yet, your sadness over the scores and numbers reminds me that I too and not a numbers teacher. In fact, I am not highly effective and might never be in the numbers game and yet, when I do those running records and retrospective analysis with my students, I am assured I make a difference in readerly lives.

  8. macrush53 says:

    This spoke to my heart as well. I hope that your new path will provide you with new adventure, joy, and mystery.

  9. blkdrama says:

    You will continue to thrive! I’m officially coming into my 10th year.

  10. elsie says:

    A fitting farewell to a professional life. There is so much life beyond the walls of school, you will discover new passions. A beautiful piece!

  11. Renae says:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes, both for the beautiful way you view education and for your parting with the profession!

  12. mcj7Carol says:

    I’m doing a long-overdue catching up on your blog. You are so consistent in writing. I had many of the same feelings when I retired four years ago. This is the first year that I’ve felt little stirrings of missing it. However, I know that in those four years, it has changed so much that I would no longer enjoy it. I’m still looking for my post-retirement calling. 🙂

    • You have so many good things going on in your post-retirement life! I love reading about all you do. I wish I were more consistent in my writing. It has drifted to the side with the new grandbaby and such. But I am missing it terribly and your comment gives me the encouragement I need to get back at it! Hope to see you soon!

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