Thursday, July 3, 2008

When a Good Teacher Retires

So this is it - your last year at the neighborhood school. We've been expecting it, but now you're making it official. You say that it's time for you to retire. That means a new teacher will live in your classroom next year, and we'll get along well with her. At least we'll get along for the first week or two.

Then she will give too much/too little homework, will smile too much/not enough, will grade too stringently/not stringently enough, and will over/under emphasize any given subject. And we will be left with memories of the teacher we USED to have. We'll remember your quick mind and your high standards. We'll certainly remember how you incorporated all those hobbies and interests into your teaching. We'll be reminded of how our child loved you and how easy and fun you made learning. And we'll remember how you made it cool to be smart.

We'll miss your years of experience. We'll miss knowing that you've seen it all and there's nothing that can rattle you. We'll miss your formal theories tempered with realistic application. We'll miss your compassion, your creativity, your confidence. We will surely miss your understanding of kids with their dreams, their fears, and their uniqueness.

You say that you know it's time for you to retire: extracurricular activities dominate your students' evenings and week-ends now.

You say it's time: parents no longer partner with their child's teacher and school.

You say it's time: the government now tells you what to teach, when to teach, and when to test.

You say this is the right time for you to go, but we are left wishing you weren't so very adept at telling time.

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