Retirement is the best thing EVER! After working (almost) nonstop for 34 years, each day now is a real gift of time. Time to make choices about what I will focus on, time to breathe deeply, time to enjoy family and friends in a much deeper way. I am ever so thankful.
But I have to admit that education is still on my mind – still in my bones, so to speak. Just in the last two days this has been brought to my attention in several different ways.
First, at our book club meeting, one of the fellow readers said she always made pictures in her mind when she read, and that a certain character in our book reminded her of someone we all knew. I just HAD to say that (some) reading teachers (the good ones) help their readers do just that, so they can connect to the story, and not just say the words on the page.
This reminded me (sigh) of the conflict between phonics-based and comprehension-focused instruction that arose in our district when new leadership was hired. A bitter struggle, and a powerful reason I am thankful for my retirement.
Then, I had a conversation with a friend who is a long-time journalist and who is newly focused on education issues in her current position. She said no one could tell her anything about Common Core from an academic standpoint. She had heard many concerns from a political viewpoint, but nothing academic.
I gave her my take in ten thousand words or less. And I left her feeling like I needed to do more research of my own to remind me why I felt that way (AND to share with her, of course). Retirement gives me to the time to do that, if I choose.
Then just last night I spoke with a young teacher about her new job this year, having moved from Kindergarten to fourth grade. She talked of a lack of teamwork in her grade, and what she saw as a focus on boring worksheets and little practical learning. Thankfully she has chosen a different path.
Then I lamented the focus on test scores and data in general, knowing that there are so many more important things to teach than just the items that can be measured by a multiple choice test. I believe that the focus should be on the child, not on the numbers that he or she is identified by and buried beneath. Retirement has given me distance from those pervasive beliefs about data.
I have amazed myself by how little I have thought about school and education since I have retired. These encounters showed me that “I’ve still got it.” I have opinions based on knowledge and experience. I have much to share with those who care to know, and reasons to back up my thinking. This still stirs my blood with a passion for what I believe to be right and true.