It has been too long – a few months I think – since I have written a celebration post. I know why. The act of celebrating is about being in the moment and I am having a difficult time remaining firmly planted in the moment. I am looking behind. I am wandering ahead. When I stand in the middle, I don’t know how to be.
I have shared a little on the blog about leaving my school after 21 years and the strange in limbo feeling that gives me as I don’t yet know where I will be in September. Our district has a process for changing schools that isn’t very “friendly” to the teachers involved. To be competitive in the spring transfer round, we must vacate our position in the middle of March. This allows us to be a B candidate instead of a C candidate (someone with a continuing contract who didn’t vacate). Even though seniority is very important, your category (B or C) is more important and C candidates are not even supposed to be considered until B candidates have positions. Job postings don’t come out until May 31st and interviews begin a week after this. The soonest I will know about where I will be in the fall is mid June.
So . . . I have known since mid March that I am leaving my job. In fact, I have known since January when I made the decision. Why I am leaving is difficult to answer as I can’t be publicly candid. I was given some very good advice by a long time friend early on: “Despite the reasons that prompted your decision, find other reasons to go. Focus on those so that you can flip all of this into a positive move.” I repeat this advice often and I try to live by it.
The leaving is hard. It is emotional. It’s confusing. The knowing and not telling has been really challenging. My students are young and concepts of time are different for them. I didn’t want them to know too soon as I didn’t want them to think I was leaving them. Finally, on Friday, I told them that even though I am their teacher until the end of the year, I will be teaching somewhere else in the fall.
There are lots of questions and I can’t provide all of the answers. What I do repeat is the big and important truth – I am not leaving because of the children. Teachers never want to leave their students. My students mean everything to me.
And this, finally brings me to my celebration. One of my students ran outside and shared news of my leaving with a friend. This friend was a girl who I taught both last year and the year before. She came up and hugged me. “I don’t want you to go Ms. Gelson. I love you. The whole school loves you.”
I celebrate that I am loved. I celebrate that I love this whole school right back and then some. I celebrate that even though I stand in the middle of my long history here and somewhere new and unknown, I can now get on with saying goodbye. I can be, in the moment, sad and sentimental or happy and full of hope. I can enjoy these next five to six weeks with my students with all of us being a little extra gentle with each other because this is it for us and it means something.
It is time for big hugs. Bright smiles. Lots of gratitude and lots of care. It is time to celebrate what we have and how much we treasure it. Teaching is about relationships. These relationships have deep roots, strong branches and glowing leaves. Our metaphorical tree is especially beautiful.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!
Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.