In teacher years, I am well past my prime (some might suggest). I am a 63-year-old teacher of AP and Dual Credit English. Many of my friends are either retired or ready to slide into the blissful years of sleeping in, walking around the mall, and going to the bathroom whenever the mood strikes. Ah, the golden years. So, why am I still in the teaching game?
I have to start with my ideas about retirement. To retire. To stop working? To retire. To start relaxing? The whole concept troubles me. I love teaching kids. They are funny, annoying (at times), brilliant, Interesting, confused, full of life, creative, and I love working with them to improve their literacy skill.
But, there is always a “but”, I am getting older and it’s harder to get out of bed every morning. Sleeping until I wake up and enjoying a cup of joe at my leisure sounds inviting. Reading for pleasure as an every day activity sounds like paradise. Not attending meeting after meeting, well, that is a big sell for retirement. Not dealing with the non-classroom realities of teaching would not be missed, a bit. And the grading, oh the grading, the endless grading an English teacher endures would not be missed. It sounds like I am making a solid case for pulling the plug.
The book of Proverbs says that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I need a vision. I need a mission. I don’t want to perish without completing my mission, and my mission requires a vision. I even have a mission statement:
My mission statement as a teacher is as follows:
“To enable all students to better understand the world around them, as well as how their unique gifts and talents will ultimately lead them to become successful individuals, family members, community leaders, and compassionate people. I will accomplish this mission by helping students improve their close reading skills, writing skills, and critical thinking skills.”
How can I accomplish my life’s mission if I don’t keep this vision before me? And, if I keep my vision before me, I will continue to work with kids.
We will read together, write together, think together, and we will continue to grow together. I will also grow older too.
There will come a day when I “retire” from the day-to-day teacher life, but I will never retire from helping kids grow in their literacy skills. My vision and my mission will grow old with me, and we will not perish walking in a mall.